Ideally, I think long and hard before taking on commitments. I ask: what’s involved? Can I complete the necessary steps? Do I want to do them?
In other words, I ask myself if will I follow through. I define that process by asking and answering several related questions as follows:
- Will I consider all available options to fulfill the commitment? Will I focus on those I consider most promising?
- Will I consult others, as deemed appropriate?
- Will I develop a plan with set deliverables and timelines to accomplish them?
- Will I monitor my results, and make any necessary corrections along the way?
If I can consistently answer yes to these questions, I will follow through.
But I know from experience it won’t necessarily be smooth sailing. I’ll hit roadblocks. Circumstances change, as will the availability of key players. I also may encounter pressing needs that demand my avid attention.
Hence the second big question I ask myself: will I follow up?
I understand the intent of follow up by asking and answering the following questions:
- Will I check in with others involved in the project?
- Am I willing to ask them difficult questions?
- Challenge them?
- Spend time dealing with unpleasantries? Be willing to go into the weeds if necessary to help the project along?
If I can consistently answer yes to these questions, I will follow up. I will daily take necessary action to fulfill my commitment?
When I follow through and follow up in the ways I’ve outlined, I will succeed in fulfilling my commitments. When I can’t or won’t, I run into problems.
Follow through and follow up. I need to pay attention to both to get things done. More important, both steps matter if I am to be viewed as a man of my word.