Why can’t I get ahead?

Reading Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand, I’m so torn. Half of me wants to burn it, the other half wants to give a copy to everyone I know. I guess that makes it a well-devised novel. Below is a small excerpt that started to change my life, but first some background. I was not working with passion. My hours were spent finding busy-work-to-do which resulted in nothing getting done. I did not understand what would make me a better worker with an Entrepreneur’s mentality, even though I had been told the answer so many times. That is, until I read the paragraphs below. Dagney Taggart is VP of Operations for a railroad, and Hank Reardon is the owner of a steel mill.

“‘That’s the story, Hank. I had worked out an almost impossible schedule to complete the Rio Norte Line in twelve months. Now I’ll have to do it in nine. You were to give us the rail over a period of one year. Can you give it to us within nine months? If there’s any human way to do it , do it. If not, I’ll have to find some other means to finish it’

‘I’ll do it.’

Dagney leaned back in her chair. The short sentence was a shock. It was not merely relief: it was the sudden realization that nothing else was necessary to guarantee that it would be done; she needed no proofs, no questions, no explanations; a complex problem could rest safely on three syllables pronounced by a man who knew what he was saying.”

What does your word mean to the people with whom you work? To my colleagues and prospects, my word has not always meant that no other proof was necessary—that if I said something would happen, it would. Now it is increasingly true that if I say something, it will get done.

This is what I was always told and never had it stick in my head. The people who get stuff done are the people who say they will do something, then do it. It happens this way: you say you will complete an action or deliver a value, and (here’s the kicker) you also say by when you will do it. You build the skill of your word by doing this with everything. You wake up at 7:00 AM every day, because you say you will. You arrive at meetings on time, because you said you would be there. You clear your inbox everyday, because by having an email address available for people to send to, you are taking on an expectation that you will respond within 24 hours.

If you’re anything like me, you can’t get ahead because you cannot be trusted: you don’t even trust yourself. So build your word. Write it down, then do it.

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