A Valuable Reminder From a Donut Vendor about Keeping Promises

My penchant for donuts and sweet rolls recently prompted me to call ahead to a local Kansas City donut shop to order four of their super special pineapple fritters.

I had only eaten them once before and was convinced they had to be the best fritters in KC. When you crave one, you simply gotta have one.

I spoke with the owner, Oz, and told him I would stop by in an hour, around 10am, to pick them up. He agreed to hold four of the fritters for me.

My call to Oz was an important step to ensure I got the fritters because once his day’s supply is gone, it’s gone. I wanted assurance he would have them because his shop is quite a distance from my house.

You can imagine my disappointment when I walked into his shop around 10:30 and found that he had no fritters for me. Turns out he had sold them to someone else.

Why? Because I had told him I would be there around 10am, and when I didn’t show, he figured I wasn’t coming. As an experienced businessman, he knew he’d better take the opportunity to sell the fritters to someone else rather than risk waiting for me.

I’ll admit I was a little peeved at first because I thought I had done everything a good customer should do. But I’m sure you see the problem here. I didn’t keep my promise! I failed to follow-through on the commitment I made to Oz to be there by 10am!

My failure was only about some pineapple fritters, but there is nothing sweet (sorry, bad pun) about not fulfilling a promise. Customers, co-workers, managers, kids, spouses, friends……no one appreciates a broken promise of any kind.

In the future, I plan to pay closer attention to all of my promises in three important ways. Perhaps these can help you too.

  • First – Be very clear on what I’m committing to and my capability to complete it
  • Second – Get feedback from the other person to ensure that we have a clear and common understanding of the promise
  • Third – Capture the promise in writing, or in some other way, that will help me remember to fulfill it.

If you want to be really remarkable out in the world, only make promises that you’re willing and able to keep. Then do it.

“Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.” Norman Vincent Peale (American minister and author)

Question: How do you ensure that you follow through on all of your promises?