Placing a value on your Word

How important is it to YOU to honor your word?  How do you react when others don’t honor theirs?  Does anyone care?  Do we believe anything that we hear or are we so jaded we believe nothing?  How many of us find the mistruths of others to be so glaringly obvious and yet we have a huge blind spot to our own missteps?  Are we even conscious of the promises that easily roll off our tongue which we have no intention of fulfilling… (“the check is in the mail” immediately comes to mind).

In the midst of this election cycle, barraged by candidates and special interest groups twisting their opponents’ words and spinning their own, it is easy to rationalize how “out there” no one is to be believed.  I wonder though, how often we catch ourselves doing the same thing?  Are we blind to our actions, or do we consciously find ways to rationalize or justify our mistruths?  What is behind our unwillingness or inability to be honest with each other?  Is it the fear of being judged? or something else?

Our fundraising on behalf of the Big Cats Initiative over the last few months really had me wrestling with these questions and the frustration of not always getting a straight answer from friends, colleagues and acquaintances.  I am respectful of the fact that not everyone is going to be as passionate about saving the Big Cats as Evan and I are – but then just tell me so.  At the end of the day, our job is to enroll others in why we are so passionate about this cause.  If we can’t do an adequate job in enrollment, we fail at our mission.  I can respect (at least on an intellectual level) if someone says, “I have another cause which is more important to me and I only have limited resources to devote to charity” – fine, I get it.  But when someone tells me that “they would be happy to contribute and the check is in the mail” – and then no check arrives – it is disappointing to say the least.  If I had ten dollars for every person who said their check was in the mail, our fundraising milestones would have been significantly higher – I guess more experienced people would say, “Welcome to the non-profit world”.  Another common excuse – “I never received the invitation”.  That worked on me for a while – really, I can be so naive, I actually began wondering if the US Postal Service was made up of an army of Seinfeld-like “Newmans”.

Photography by Evan Schiller

Mala Mala Lion

Anyway, I pride myself on my word, but the experience forced me to look in the mirror and see where I too can sometimes fall short.  I am now that much more mindful of my own words and that much more intentional in how I choose to express myself.  Think about it and Pass it on!  We’ll all be better for it.

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