Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

Do What You Say You're Going to Do

Do What You Say You’re Going to Do | brokeGIRLrich

If I could give every aspiring young stage manager one career tip, it would be: do what you say you’re going to do.

And honestly, I’d give anyone aspiring to do anything that tip.

I really wish I could remember the first person who told me that, because it definitely lodged itself in my mind early on and has hugely colored how I live a lot of my life.

The vast majority of compliments I’ve gotten over the course of my career boil down to this.

Just as equally, the vast majority of “oh sh*t” moments have come from a misstep in that department.

Not too long ago I thought, I should make a list of all the major incidents that could occur during the show I’m working on and how we’d try to deal with them. Back in the circus days, we called these Plan Bs. I told our Technical Director I was going to make a list to go over with her.

Then life happened. We got slammed putting new people into the show. We went to several rough venues where everything took longer than usual and we didn’t have any spare time for a meeting.

Then (and this will be twice as amusing to you if you remember the show I work on), the giant two-person-puppet dog fell over onstage.

And no one knew the plan because the Plan B list didn’t exist and it was definitely an “oh sh*t” moment.

Of course everyone is fine and most of the audience thought the dog suddenly wanted to take a nap (thank goodness our audience is primarily 3-6 year olds), but I definitely thought, if I’d just done what I said I was going to do, this would’ve been a rockstar moment of everyone knowing how to respond instead of a panic moment for the performers and a really quick thinking moment for the crew.

Needless to say, that meeting has now happened and we are prepared for everything right down to California earthquakes.

But doing what you say you’re going to do doesn’t always have to be as big as creating a spreadsheet of all the weird and crazy things that can happen during a live performance, sometimes it’s just sending an email or making a phone call.

Sometimes it’s something as silly as picking up a bar of chocolate you promised someone or as fun as actually following through on making social plans.

We’ve gotten really flakey as a society and our standard of excellence in near non-existent. If you start to hold yourself to the standard of doing what you say you will, you’ll quickly start to stand out among your peers.

One quick and final warning though, when you start doing what you say you will, make sure you watch what you say! This isn’t a post about making wild promises, it’s a post about just following through on your day to day duties faithfully. As you refine this skill, you’ll learn that another important skill is to learn when to say no, so that you have the time and focus to do what really needs to be done before taking on further tasks.

What’s one career tip that has influenced how you work?

15 thoughts on “Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

  1. One of the first things that I learned is that you don’t have to pretend or act like you know everything. I worked at a IT support call center and was very quickly one of the top agents, and one of the key differences it that many of my colleagues would come across a problem for which they didn’t know how to solve, but would try to BS their way through, which would often lead to frustration on both sides of the call. If I didn’t know something, I’d be honest and say “I’m not sure how to fix that but I’d love the opportunity to check, and either have you wait on hold or get back.” Setting that expectation made things a lot easier, and with all things being equal on how long it took, that up front honesty was the difference maker.
    Money Beagle recently posted…Battery Powered Device Not Working? Check The ContactsMy Profile

  2. Yep, I think part of doing what you say you’re going to do is that you have to make reasonable promises. I’m working on not overpromising. If I think there’s going to be a lot going on, I try to delay the new project or just say that I can’t manage it.

    I had an opportunity for a freelance article that would’ve paid $1,000. It almost killed me to say no, but I thought about the stress it’d put on me and how many other things would go to hell. I decided that wasn’t worth it.
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  3. I think the biggest time I have a problem with this is when it’s something I’m doing for myself. Like, “I’m going to exercise more.” Or, “I’m going to take a me day.” That last one I’m finding, is something I maybe just shouldn’t say with my kids as young as they are. Or, “Yes, mom, I’m really going to use this money for a spa day and not just throw it into my emergency fund.”
    When I tell someone else I’m going to do something, I follow through if my perception of myself is correct. But when I make a promise to do something for myself, I fall through almost every time lately.
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  4. This was a huge thing I learned from my fellow bloggers early on, actually, as I found mentors and learned from them what was highly valued in a true professional.

    I learned a lot from them, by deed and word:

    Always keep your word so you have to follow through on promises and also be careful what you’re committing to. Being honest was huge in customer service and also in building trust with colleagues. Be ready to say you don’t know or confess to mistakes: showing this means that you aren’t more concerned with your ego than getting the job done right, and people will trust you when you say you do know how to do something, and they’ll trust that you will stand up if you were responsible. Last, stand up for your people! The last time I had a manager who was only looking after her own back, I learned a lot about how to destroy trust. When I became a manager myself, I remembered what it felt like not to be able to trust that my work would be recognized or defended and did my best to always go to bat for my people whether they knew it or not. Often they didn’t, because if I did my job right, I would have successfully defended them and the fight wouldn’t have affected them at all, unless for the better.
    Revanche recently posted…Counterpoint: How I love the internetMy Profile

  5. That’s a great tip to work by and live by. I always try to do this in my professional life but I’m not so great at it my personal life. I put things off that I should really have taken action about a long time ago. Side note – out of interest, what would plan B consist of for if the big two person dog should fall over on stage again? :)
    Hayley @ Disease Called Debt recently posted…Debt Success Story: How Michael Paid Off $27K in DebtMy Profile

    • A human actor crosses down in front of the curtain and improvs asking the kids questions about their pets as the curtain closes. The rest of the cast and the technical director help pick up the dog, once he’s set, another human actor goes out in front of the curtain with the cue line, the curtain opens and the show picks back up.

  6. The dog fell over?? I’m surprised the kids didn’t start shrieking. Lol.

    I totally agree with you on this though. It’s actually your ability to keep the small promises in life that build a relationship with your family and friends, especially little kids. They notice things like this and remember it, and they know it’s a form of love
    fehmeen recently posted…4 Benefits of Credit Cards Compared to Debit CardsMy Profile

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