Tomorrow isn’t promised, so be most aware of what you promise.

One of the most valuable assets a human can hold in a relationship is their reputation. Not of the promises they keep but the promises they make. There is a major difference. The promises one keeps don’t have a minimum or a maximum. Therefore it is most important to observe the facts and move accordingly. One does not have to make promises at all to have healthy relationships. As a prime and extreme example, I’ve delivered a tangible, transparent, and sustainable result without making promises to anyone, including but never limited to those that did everything they could to get me to make them. I've been asked to make many promises. I've been asked to promise to teach people music from zero. I've been asked to promise monogamy. I've had multiple people, from young junior executives to senior leadership, ask me to promise to navigate corporate waters. I've been asked by medical corporations - from NFL doctors to holistic dentists - to promise substantial unique IP, infrastructure, and strategic business planning and development. I've had Montessori system entities ask for a promise of unique IP and proprietary data sharing. An industrial safety company asked for a promise of standing weekly meetings regardless of whether or not there was anything to discuss. I've been asked by a Fortune 500 company's learning and development, marketing, and global operations departments to promise digital transformation with ethics and compliance to allow compliance from a strategic point of view internally and externally, from the local store perspective to global.

Despite never promising anyone anything in any of these regards, I was able to completely deliver on the promises I never made. Several ex-girlfriends from different backgrounds and cultures have told me that, despite my lack of promises, I’ve shown more consistency and follow-through in my actions than most who make promises. This validates my assessment that, in reality, promises are not what they’re generally perceived to be.

In my experience, those who need to receive promises are generally looking to overcome doubt, a known or unknown fear, and/or do so simply because things are more comfortable when promises are made, as it creates a sense of security. None of this is cement. There are always exceptions to everything I mention (as there are few notable absolutes in this life). The main points here are the line segments that connect from needing to be promised and the promise makers. Whether it’s women in a relationship working on getting me to agree to terms outside of reason and consideration and/or friends trying their best to be my best friend to show the world (and secretly themselves) how close we are for whatever reason — promises can hold the wrong weight under the right circumstance. Meaning: the right situation can become convoluted based on the wrong premise of promises being introduced for no other reason but the inability to reason with an appropriate mindset.

An appropriate mindset allows one to be themselves by spending the majority of time in observation and flexibility and less on the rigidity in the wrong area: personal growth. Every relationship is for one’s personal growth. If the focus remains on personal growth, then the premise of a promise does not fit into the mainframe and therefore isn’t a prerequisite for trust, longevity, and, most important, internal tranquility. The management of any relationship is based on individual management of expectations derived from self-love as well as external acceptance for that which is different.

Promises can be useful and the most powerful when they are reached and kept based on a mental fortitude that resides in daily self-appraisal. Self-evaluation is the key to holding oneself accountable to make the appropriate promises rooted in roots that run deeper than external approval relative to societal norms that fade as we age. Promises must be made on the premise of willingness, openness, understanding, and self-love for whoever is gaining from that promise. Marriage, health, children, financial securities, and taxes should be the only promises made and kept. If one has to make promises outside of these categories, then one must spend the time to figure out what’s wrong, not who’s wrong.

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Steve Douglas

Steve is a Canadian polymath whose pro music career officially began at age 4 when he performed live @ Wembley Stadium. His focus = tangibly benefiting youth.