Word as Honor
In middle school, I was friends with a boy whose parents were divorced and he lived with just his mom, who worked evenings. He invited me for a sleepover one Friday night with a bigger plan to hang out with some girls across town without his mom’s knowledge.
Planning for the event seemed exciting. To be honest, I followed the rules most of the time, and this seemed intriguing. So, I went along with it. However, once we actually started off to the girl’s house, it started feeling very wrong to me.
I knew how disappointed my parents would be if they found out, and I realized that while I had not broken my word directly, this was definitely breaking it in spirit. While I did go with my friend, I convinced him to head back home earlier than we had intended, because I was not having much fun.
Throughout high school and college, it always surprised me when someone said they would do something and then did not. I am not talking about deception, just not following through on what they said they would do.
At some point, I realized how important promises were in the Coleman family. It was not just when you said, “I promise...” If you said you were going to be home by 10pm, you were fully expected to be there. No excuses.
That is something that has remained an important value both personally and professionally. Even though I have found that others are not always sincere in their commitments, I find I have to be in order to be authentic.
Several years ago, I had a client for whom we were running an Adwords campaign. She had asked me to turn if off before the weekend, and while I thought I had, it kept running. When I logged in on Monday morning, I found that we had spent $1500 more over the weekend (it was a pretty high spending campaign).
I was beside myself. While I would have preferred to brush it under the rug and hope she would not notice, I gave her a call and told her what had happened. Even though it would have been a real financial stretch at the time, I was fully prepared to refund her the money out of my own pocket. In the end, she did not think it was a big deal, as they did get valuable traffic out of it, and it was only a 10% overspend. So, she did not accept my offer.
For me, it is important to keep my word, even when it is inconvenient, because that is what Colemans do.
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