6 July 2014
Sometimes, I think life is best described as a maze of interconnected pathways. It takes us on a journey that is often confusing (with plenty of wrong turns) but one that, if we stay focused, will take us to the right place in the end. It would be a lonely task without having the fortune to pass other people along the way, but this is what life is. Paths converge to bring us into contact with people. Some will continue on their way, but others will walk with you, side by side. I think this is what friendship is.
Somebody shared a saying with me recently that made me smile. I’m told it was first said by the radio host Bernard Meltzer. In his view, “A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked.” I think it’s fair to say that most of us can relate to that – I’m sure some of my friends will agree to it! Yet, whilst it’s an amusing observation, I think a strong relationship with anyone relies on something else: commitment. We’re all guilty of it; making a promise to somebody and then letting them down. Whilst it might not be intentional, it’s easy to make excuses for not doing something that you said you would do, even if it’s as seemingly trivial as going out with work colleagues for a drink. Obviously, we sometimes find ourselves in unavoidable situations where we inadvertently fail to deliver on a promise, but if we keep them as much as we can then, ultimately, we’re making a positive impact.
This is why I like the idea of the organization “because I said I would“, which was founded by a man whose father had recently died. Wishing to honour his memory, he picked the one thing his father had been best known for: his ability to keep a promise. Then, he came up with the idea of promise cards, on which people could write down a commitment. Much like writing down your goals, the process of physically putting pen to paper somehow makes it feel more real and holds you more firmly to your promise.
The organisation now sends its promise cards around the world, helping people to stick to and honour their commitments to other people and to themselves. Some of the most touching stories are from people who have used the cards to overcome difficult events or become better people for their families. It’s a reminder to all of us that, when we make a commitment to do something, either for a friend or for ourselves, it’s so important to keep it. For me, taking a step back from the coalface is something I’m doing because I said I would, so I can be a better father and husband. What would you write on your promise card and who would you write it for?
What will you do because you said you would?