Pick Up Your Pajamas!

Peter Daniels (an Australian billionaire) shared a story about how he once promised his wife he would no longer leave his pajamas on the floor after he got dressed in the morning. She had no issue picking them up but he decided that this was his job not hers and committed to this daily activity.

Peter keeps a record of all his promises in a notebook that he always carries with him. He is committed to keeping every promise.

One day he had to rush off to a board meeting, quickly got dressed and left his pajamas on the floor and then forgot to pick them up as he had promised to do. He only remembered after he arrived at the meeting and the board of directors were already seated around the table. Apparently, he immediately interrupted the meeting to call his wife to say, “Do NOT pick up my pajamas. I’m coming home right away to pick them up myself!” She argued with him, of course, assuring him that it was no big deal and he had more important things to do. The board meeting for one.

But Peter was adamant and left the meeting, and a group of bewildered directors, to race home to keep his word.

Peter understood that if you can’t keep your word in the little things you can’t be trusted with the big things. In spite of their confusion, the board of directors must have been impacted by this action.

I have never forgotten this story and after hearing it, committed to keeping my word. I don’t always succeed but, as with everything, the more I practice it, the better I get at it. The secret is to make promises you know you can keep, to write them down and to commit to action.

People make promises for all sorts of reasons. They say they will do things and then fail to follow through and when others consistently let you down, it becomes difficult to trust. The reason for this lack of integrity is often a lack of discipline. Their intentions may be good but then they get distracted, forget, or find a reason (excuse) not to follow through. Then there are those who promise things without any intention of following through. This is a deceptive but all too common practice. Think about the line, “Let’s do lunch. I’ll call you.” It’s so common that it’s become like the question “How are you?” A form of greeting where we all know that anything but an affirmative reply would be considered socially unacceptable.

People are people and we’re not going to change the world by saying that they need to change. The best I can do is positively encourage my circle of influence to make changes and show them the many benefits of doing so. 🙂

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