I recently agreed to speak at a showcase this October. This particular event is unpaid, but I decided to do it because it puts me in front of 450 people. That’s 450 individuals that I can inspire to live a life of passion, but it’s also 450 individuals who can potentially be so moved that they hire me for paid gigs down the road. That makes it a win-win.
As fate would have it, another speaking opportunity came up for the exact same day. And this one was willing to pay. What was I to do?
In honesty, I would speak every day for free if I could, but let’s be realistic. Doing things for free doesn’t pay the mortgage. It also doesn’t put food on the table, keep the electricity on, or clothe my family. So I did what I thought any smart businessperson would do. What any person with integrity would do.
I called the first gig back to make sure it was still on, explaining that this other opportunity had presented itself and I didn’t want to turn it down if this event was in jeopardy of being cancelled. Shortly thereafter, the woman I corresponded with sent me an email and said that she totally understood if I took the second one, since it was paid. And if I did, she’d simply put me on their calendar for the next year.
While I absolutely appreciated her willingness to put my needs before her own, I told her no. I stressed that I would honor my original commitment. Why? Because I want her to know that Red is a man of his word. If he tells you he is going to do something, then he is going to do it. No ifs, ands, or buts.
I also want her (and anyone she may speak to about me) to know that money won’t sway me. I want her to realize that what’s important to me is honoring my commitments because I’ve had others who haven’t honored theirs with me and it has harmed our relationship in return.
For instance, I have a client who placed an order from me, but asked if I could hold it and ship it in a month. No problem, I said. Then, a few days before the shipment was to go out, he called and told me to cancel order. He didn’t honor his original commitment, his original agreement, even though I went out of my way to honor his initial request. Well, I won’t do that again because how can I trust him down the road to not do the same thing to me again?
Honoring our commitments is a humungous piece of how people value us. It tells them that, no matter what, they can count on us to follow through on what we’ve said we’ll do. It makes them feel more comfortable with hiring us because they know that we aren’t going to let them down.
So while it may be tempting from time to time to take up a “better offer,” compromising your integrity to do it isn’t worth it as no amount of money can repair the damage to your reputation. To your business. To your self-worth. No amount of money at all.