- You’ve made a commitment. (Connie Conscience)
- Commitment to whom? I didn’t promise anyone I’d write every Sunday. (Lazy Lucy)
- There’s an implied commitment with the people who read this. (Lawyer Lorna)
- They’ll never notice. No one reads it anyway. (Whiney Winifred)
- Not true, but even if it were, you made a commitment! (Reasonable Rhonda)
And so I sat down to write thinking about this idea of an implied commitment.
Recently, I saw part of a show on PBS of a Harvard professor lecturing to a full classroom on ethics and justice. Part of the discussion included students defending the position that a car company did not need to fix the defect in one of its models until it reached a certain threshold even though people were dying because of the defect. What is a company’s implied commitment to its consumers and when does the obligation to honor it kick in? Is it when the publicity is too bad? Or is there some ratio regarding death and profit? What about responsibility to the shareholders? Or should management respond as soon as they know of the problem?
I suspect most of us believe the latter – if you know of a problem you have a responsibility to do something. Does that responsibility change depending on whether or not there is danger to life and limb? Many of us, many of our organizations don’t do work that rises to that level, so does the answer change? If there is no danger and I feel lazy I can ignore my commitments – great, I don’t have to do my blog today!
But then I remembered a definition of integrity – doing what is right when no one is watching. Seems to me a corollary is doing what you say you will do even when no one will know the difference. It takes each one of us honoring our commitments, both explicit and implied, to make sure our organizations honor their commitments.
Author and motivational speaker Barbara Glanz says the definition of a saint is someone who always does what she says she will do. Think about that for a moment and you’ll realize what a very high standard that really is. How are you doing with your commitments?