Be Impeccable With Your Word
What does that mean to you? When Don Miguel Ruiz wrote those words he was speaking to the individual. Say what you mean and mean what you say. We hear that sentence all the time. Especially when someone misunderstands what you’re talking about. Recently I’ve noticed that being impeccable with words is lacking in business as well. Does that come from the way we live our individual lives or does it trickle down from the way the companies we work for do business?
So what does being impeccable mean?
I’m sure it’s interpreted differently by different people. My take on it is following through with what you say and your words being authentic and true. For example, many businesses have policies. How many businesses do you know that actually follow through with those policies 100% of the time? Dress codes, return and refund policies, cleaning procedures, charges, job descriptions, etc… The list goes on and I’m sure you can think of a policy or procedure that was pointed out to you upon hiring that owners, presidents and management took very seriously. We do this as individuals as well. I will never eat fast food again, I will work out every day, even, as children: I will never tell a lie again.
So what’s the big deal?
As individuals if we don’t trust ourselves to follow through, then who else should? It’s not to say that you’re not going to be driving home, shaking from hunger and pull into McDonalds just to calm your stomach down. This isn’t about saying something and having to stick to it forever. Everyone has the right to change their mind. The issue is that, you aren’t trusted if that’s all you do. If the rules only apply when it’s convenient. In business, you don’t get taken seriously. Your employees being creating bad habits because you’re not enforcing your limits, boundaries and requirements. The ones that try to follow the rules and report issues begin to feel like a nuisance and will eventually give up as well.
We see it everywhere
Ever notice a business that used to be really great; that took care of there business? Take a restaurant for example. The food was on point, delicious and consistent every time. A few years down the road employees are looking sloppy, your favorite dish is just off in flavor and the bathrooms are falling apart. What is happening behind the scene is that management and ownership has not been impeccable with their word. When they handed out the uniform they meant, until they get tired of reminding you. When they created their recipes they only intended on them being used until the budget got tight then they’d create short cuts and as far as the bathrooms… well they got tired of employees complaining because they had to keep it clean.
Trickle down effect
It doesn’t take long for the lack of faith to bleed off on upper management, lower management, supervisors and then staff. The worst part is when you still have an employee that cares enough to want to do things the right way. That employee that doesn’t mind doing it the way you asked and isn’t embraced to call others out. We aren’t talking about the “tattle-tale” we are talking about the person that see’s that your business is being neglected and wants to give you the opportunity to enforce what you “SAID” was the rule. How embarrassing when you make that person feel like crap for speaking up.
I’m sure you’ve done it. Someone comes to you with an issue that based on your policies and culture, you’ve led them to believe it’s important to you. You’re busy, things aren’t going well, you’re dealing with other important matters and you look at that employee like you can’t believe they are worried about that. Well, it’s a pretty big assumption they won’t be worried about your business at all any longer.
Where are we now
Today, we are looking at businesses that fail within a few years. Businesses that get their feathers all ruffled over a bad review on Yelp and can’t figure out why they would say such things. Employees that do only what they have to and only when you’re watching. Customers that are all looking for a hand-out or discount. Customers that don’t match your target market because at this point you’ll take anyone. Does that look like the business you dreamt of when you opened your doors? Does it look like the business you had even a year in? Business is time consuming.
How to go back
Be impeccable with your word. If you don’t start now you never will and the second you brush something under the rug, it’s over. That doesn’t mean you have to go back to your original policies and core values. Times change. After a few years in business you realize what is important to you and what’s not. So rewrite those job descriptions and rethink what you want from your employees. You should love what you do. When you compromise, become frustrated because people badger you into bending your rules or guilt you into making concessions then it’s not your businesses. When you stop loving it, take a good hard look at what you don’t like and decide how it needs to change.
It’s not just good for business, it’s good for your personal life as well. Don’t offer what you really don’t want to give. Don’t tell yourself a lie that you never intend to back up. We feel unworthy so much of the time and feel like failures because we don’t get the result we wanted. Ask yourself how much of what you intended did you actually follow through with.
Forgive yourself, love yourself and move on. Nothing is concrete, you’re not branded and it isn’t over yet!
If you haven’t read the book, get it. Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements
I don’t expect that everyone will agree with me and i’m ok with that. But if you witness businesses running this way, are brave enough to admit you do this or left a company over similar lack of values and integrity, i’d love to start a discussion.