When you want something as a kid, you are willing to agree to anything (almost) in order to get that thing. “I PROMISE”, you say emphatically. And “I won’t forget”. But once you had the item, did you do what you promised, did you forget? You got what you wanted and if it was a candy bar or other sweet it was likely long gone by the time that you were supposed to fill your end of the bargain. Where was the incentive for you to take action? Gone, forgotten.
Now that you are an adult, you always fulfill these promises, right? No part of you reverts to the childish ‘make me’ thoughts that went through your head and possibly came out of your mouth when you were encouraged to complete your end of those childhood bargains.
I remember, back in the days before computers made writing up school papers such a breeze, one late night when my brother told my mom that he would wash her kitchen floor for the rest of his life if she would finish typing his paper due the next day. Even if he would move far away she asked, yes even then he answered. As a mother, she knew it wasn’t in her best interest to agree, but after getting him to type up the first couple of pages (correction tape, you have no idea the hassles…) she conceded she would complete the paper. She had received awards for typing speed (on a manual typewriter, not even electric) in her school days and was done with my brother’s paper in record time even though it was a science paper and therefore full of formulas and other nasty things to have to type up. (Footnotes were torture on a typewriter.)
I don’t recall how many times my brother actually scrubbed the floor, but it became part of family legend when negotiations came up. I think that mom’s bargain was a win-win though because she got a lot of mileage out of it, my brother’s reward in this case was short lived. And it didn’t cost her that much in effort since typing was a skill that she had mastered. Plus she had a grateful teenage son for a couple of days which is priceless. I had plenty of bargains gone bad of my own with mom, none so memorable, that all came back to haunt me as my children started to strike bargains. (Oh, the pull of wanting a happy child.)
We make deals all the time that we might believe we will readily fulfill in the heat of the moment. But human nature is such that once the incentive to act is lessened or gone; the pull to ignore this responsibility can be great. What did we learn in the aftermath of our childhood negotiations, were we required to uphold our end? What is our relationship with the current deal holder & will we have any need to do business with them in the future?
The most important consideration is the covenant that we have with ourselves. This becomes the incentive which can drive us to fulfill our agreement regardless if we’ve already received what we originally wanted or needed.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations