"Make A Promise Day" — May 4th

May The Fourth Be With You!

Power of a Promise — Make one today to your mother.


The article below was published in the May issue of Personal Excellence Magazine.  Visit www.LeaderExcel.com for more info about subscribing to Personal Excellence and Leadership Excellence.  Hope you enjoy my article.  Visit  www.MakeAPromiseDay.com for more information about Make A Promise Day and The Power of Making a Promise.  Many thanks to Ken Shelton and the team at Personal Excellence for running my article this month. 

Power of a Promise

Make one today to your mother.

By Matthew Cossolotto

Some years ago, when I was thinking about writing a book about the habits of failure and success, I spoke about my ideas with my mother, Virginia Hope Butler, a talented writer. I enjoyed kicking creative ideas around with her. I would explain the concepts and how I thought this book would provide a powerful guide for people who felt stuck, disempowered, and unable to make positive changes.  She encouraged me to complete the book. 

 Although I spent much time talking about the book, I never finished. After my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, became terminally ill, and had only weeks to live, I promised her that I’d finish the book, get it published, and dedicate it to her.

We both fought back tears. We both knew that she would not live long enough to see the book published. But I could see in her eyes that dedicating the book to her memory meant a great deal to her. She smiled brightly when I made that promise, despite the pain she was experiencing, and said: “You do that, Matthew!”

Promises to Keep

I credit that promise for motivating me to finish the book and get it published with this dedication: 

In loving memory of my mother, Virginia Hope (Ludascher) Butler

I did it, Mom!  Finally.  I can honestly say that this book would never have been completed had I not made that promise to you at home in Gasquet, California, a few weeks before you passed away. This vividly demonstrates the power of making a promise, especially to your mother!

Turn your goals into promises.  When you make a promise—especially to your mother—failure is not an option.  Making a promise means you have some skin in the game.  Your integrity is on the line.  It’s more difficult to turn your back on a promise made to someone you care about than it is to ignore a vague goal or a half-hearted resolution.

 To ensure you meet a particular goal—whether it’s to quit smoking, lose weight, stop drinking, or write that book—do yourself a big favor.  Turn that goal into a promise.  Making a promise keeps you on track.  You’ll remind yourself that failure is not an option.  You must follow through and get it done because you know in your heart that if you don’t you will disappoint somebody who means a great deal to you.

After making and keeping a few promises, you’ll strengthen your achievement muscles.  You’ll start to close the gap between your performance and your potential.  You’ll enhance your confidence about your ability to set goals and reach them.

Ya Promise?

When I was a kid, I remember telling friends that I would do something—perhaps play baseball on Saturday or go to the movies or pay back the 50 cents I borrowed. That’s when I’d get asked:  Ya promise? And I’d ask the same question when a friend made a commitment to me.  Ya promise? 

It’s a powerful question that makes you stop and think before you answer.  Kids know that instinctively. Sometimes we’d underscore the seriousness of the promise with the familiar rhyme:  “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.”  That’s when the promise really had some teeth.

As adults, we seldom ask somebody to promise to do something.  And we rarely volunteer a promise. We should bring back the power of making a promise. 

Inspired by the empowering experience of making that promise to my mother, I am spreading the word about the power of making a promise.  With the launch of Make A Promise Day, I encourage you to pick any day that has special meaning—Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a birthday, Valentine’s Day, or wedding anniversary—and use that day to translate a specific goal into a heartfelt promise to someone you care about. 

I offer five keys to help you make and keep your promises: 1) be specific—turn concrete goals into heartfelt promises; 2) commit emotionally—make a promise to someone you really care about; 3) be selective—pick just one or two important goals; 4) start small—get started by identifying and reaching a couple of small, quickly accomplished goals to build your “achievement” muscles and boost your goal-reaching confidence; and 5) follow through—to reinforce your promise, make it public and put it in writing to put your integrity on the line.  

Make a Promise Day is a personal empowerment day dedicated to setting and reaching goals. Make a promise to your mother.  Instead of making a vague wish, make a self-improvement promise—and follow through. Then, you, along with poet Robert Frost, can say, “I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.” PE

Matthew Cossolotto is author of The Real F Word: The 7 Failure Traps of Highly Disempowered People (and what to do about them) (Morgan James Publishing). Visit www.MakeAPromiseDay.com, www.PEPTalksUSA.com, and www.Ovations.com.

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