Last week, I asked you to look inside, listen for and find your "little voice.” That “little voice" that belittles, demeans, confuses and sabotages your passion and drive for an honest and integral life. We can't have an honest life if we do not keep our word to ourselves; that is our Core. If I promise not to have dessert tonight and then I weaken and have dessert, I am eating away and attacking my integrity. I can't even keep my word to myself; translated, I don’t matter. If you don’t matter, no one else in your life can really matter. Your integrity is riding on very shaky ground. People often act as if keeping their word to themselves doesn't really matter when, in fact, it matters enormously.

I used to ask people in consulting meetings "do you keep your word?” Their first reaction was almost to take offense at the question; responding quickly, "of course, I don't break my promises.” When I probed a little deeper and asked them to give me some examples, they would pause for several moments, ponder some, and then come up with something that sounded like this, "I gave my word to my wife when we got married to be faithful and I have kept that promise.” When I asked for a second example of making a promise, John responded, "I promised the bank that I would pay back the mortgage over 30 years.” What I learned from questioning my clients was that giving one's word, making a promise, was only invoked for major, life changing issues. How narrow a focus when giving your word and keeping it gives you instant satisfaction and boosts your integrity!

I want to share with you a very powerful formula that I learned from one of my first mentor’s many years ago. The formula is: Give Your Word (+) Keep Your Word (produces) = Satisfaction. This is a life winning formula. You can use it over and over; going to this formula several times a day will produce instant gratification. Why? Truth, energy, and a life force goes directly to the base of your integrity, your core. It nourishes you at your very core because we all are seeking the truth.

Let's look at an example. Mary, the mother of three, is under a lot of stress, partially because her husband is away on business and she is working from home. But, she promised Sara that when she got home from school, she would take her to Camera Mart so that she could spend some of her first allowance. Sara gets home, excited for the trip to Camera Mart and reminds mom, “you promised.” Mom, who remembers promising but now regrets it, has an integrity issue to confront. If you don't see this situation as an opportunity for the mom to build her integrity muscle, as well as a chance to teach her daughter what integrity is all about, you are missing a huge opportunity as a parent to educate by actions not just words. This is where you build your core and demonstrate your integrity that you are somebody who keeps their word even when it is inconvenient and hurts. The lesson here is to not throw your integrity - your word - around without sufficient thought.

Mom, in the course of her busy day, agreed to a meeting at 4PM with a client, having forgotten her promise to Sara.

The store will be closed by the time the meeting is over. The answer is simple; how to get there might take some negotiation. The promise to Sara is the key and the dominant consideration. Fortunately, mom realizes that she doesn’t have to take the call in her home office but could do it from the car satisfactorily. There are two very important life issues taking place here: number one, Mom is building her promise and integrity muscle (keep your word with everything); secondly, she is teaching Sara this life lesson in action rather than in words.

Your word is too important to give it without thinking. I use it all the time. Secret, every time I use the formula, I feel great satisfaction. Please use it and let me know how it goes for you. I use it to keep myself on time. If I say I’ll meet you at 5PM for a drink; I’ll be there at 5PM. Most people are late; they have a ton of excuses in the beginning; some don’t even realize that they are 10 minutes late, they just act as if this is the normal, operating procedure. Not me. I don’t get upset, at first, it is, presently, the human condition. Everyone is late and that makes it OK? No! I just explain that when I schedule a drink, appointment, entertainment or a business meeting, I am on time. On those rare occasions when I have a crisis, I call ahead - way in advance. It is amazing how - when you are clear about your boundaries and expectations - people, who really want to be around you, get the program and some adopt it for themselves.

You have a secret formula! I don’t usually use or recommend formulas for having a great life. Use it. I want you to have passion and purpose in your life. If you need help or have questions, you know where to find me. Let’s continue the discussion at:


Tom Power is a family relationship consultant and the author of “Family Matters: A Layperson’s Guide to Family Functioning.” You can check out his website at or email questions to

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