Working with "Wednesday-morning Paul"!
Very few know this, but I have a clone. His name is Wednesday-morning Paul (W-MP). We appear identical in every way and if you were to meet him, you likely wouldn't notice the slightest difference between us. But, there is a big difference. This difference makes it hard for me to acknowledge him because the story I tell myself, of me, is so different than W-MP. The difference is how we handle commitments and agreements.
When it comes to commitments, particularly when I'm the only one involved, I keep running into the very slippery and unreliable W-MP. I really prefer Sunday-night Paul (S-NP) over my clone. S-NP is the one to create a plan, declare the commitment and is usually "in the know" of what's good and helpful for both of us. For example, S-NP wants to go to the gym four times each week, follow an eating plan and get to bed on time. Despite the contract between the two, W-MP typically wants to break it for an extra hour of sleep, a sugary treat or to stay up late and stream the latest hit show. W-MP is just so willing to let us out of the agreements and commitments made between the two of us.
How many of you have a Wednesday version of yourself that fails to follow through on what you agreed to? Do you find yourself routinely breaking "the contract" between your current self and your future self? We can ask these questions of ourselves at the macro level too. Are you having difficulty managing agreements within your team, with direct reports, customers and stakeholders? Do you sometimes get unclear about what you have committed or agreed to?
Points for reflection.
Managing commitments with self:
It's easier for the future self to break the contract if...
The terms were never clear to begin with
Nobody else knows about it
Future self loses nothing by failing to follow through
You are more likely to follow through with their good intentions when...
The commitment is clear and specific (gym on MTWTH, set an alarm, 6am class, bring water and ear buds)
Other people know about it (my significant other and co-workers know my schedule and I request they check in with me on it)
The future self loses something for failing to follow through (my health and mood suffer if I don't follow through, my integrity suffers, etc.)
Managing agreements with others:
Engage in open and authentic dialogue with each other about what it is you want to create in the culture/atmosphere of the team, division, and organization.
Shared responsibility approach - each person "stakes themselves out" on what they can be counted on for instead of requesting someone else change.
When someone enters the team or leaves the team, revisit the agreement. Invite the engagement of the new person so they can align and become informed.
Revisit agreements regularly so all are clear on what we have collectively committed to and want - be clear about what each person will contribute, not take.
Discuss, ahead of time, strategies for when someone gets slippery and breaks the agreement (this helps to avoid personalizing, being defensive and builds a feedback culture).