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I promised and now I have a new puppy to take care of.

December 21, 2012
two puppies

Image Courtesy of RustyAmber Labradoodles

Over the last 12 months I have come to the realisation that I am surrounded by puppies.

Puppies that I have promised to take care of.  Puppies that people trust me to take care of for them.

Some days there are so many of them I am not sure I will be able to manage. It has gotten to the point where even though I would love to offer to take on more I have had to stop myself.

I have had to say no.

Kids make promises all the time. “I promise Mum, I will do my homework tonight.”, “I promise I will be good.” “I promise I won’t spill it…” “This will be the last time I ask,I promise.”.

“I promise I will look after the puppy! I will feed it and give it water and I will clean up his messes.”

But as a ‘grown-up’ when was the last time you made a promise?

When was the last time you kept a promise? Or more importantly, when was the last time you took care of a promise for someone?

Did you listen to that last question?

When was the last time you took care of a promise for someone?

Took care of it like you would take care of a puppy? Fed it. Watered it. Cleaned up any messes. Really took care of it.

Do you even think of promises that way? Or do you think that you stopped making promises about the time you left primary school?

My friend and colleague (and coach and mentor) Phillip Crockford has been working with me (and letting me work with him) to help me see that the promise is the fundamental currency of every relationship in our lives. We make and accept (and hopefully keep) hundreds of promises every day in all aspects of our lives.

Some are big promises… “… ’till death do us part”, signing on to play as part of a team for next season, the confidentiality between doctor and patient, lawyer and client, the confidentiality between friends.

Some are small promises… getting milk on the way home, getting the meeting minutes out before the end of the week, not swearing so much.

But big or small, each one of those promises is something that we have promised to take care of for someone else.

Each promise is a like puppy you are looking after for someone else.

Their puppy.

You cannot just say you will look after it and then leave it in a box in the corner.

You cannot just say “Sorry, things got really busy last week and I didn’t get around to feeding it or giving it water. I meant to tell you but it just slipped my mind…”

You said you would look after it for them – so look after it.

***

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2012 8:29 am

    Such a crucial character principle Paul – I REALLY like the idea of framing it as a promise that we then take great care of like a puppy. Unless we do what we say we’re going to do, we not only betray the trust of others, we set up disturbing tensions within ourselves, and we make it easier to betray ourselves over and over, to lie to ourselves, to leave undone what we long to do, and by extension, to stunt our flourishing.
    Excellent post! (Sharing)

  2. Claire permalink
    December 21, 2012 5:14 pm

    I love that my babies are your models!!!
    Love the post too. Food for thought over the silly season!

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