We make them to the people we love, our friends, our coworkers – even ourselves. Companies make promises, too. “A promise is a promise,” we proclaim, meaning that we will keep them. Regardless.

What if they are broken?

The outcome can be minor or devastating, depending on the consequences of what might have been expected. A missed chance to catch a ballgame is easier to swallow than discovering you won’t grow old together with the one you love. Even so, it’s easy to place blame because, yes, it’s downright disappointing and your role was to simply agree to be the recipient. After all, you didn’t make the promise – the other person did. The company did. So it’s completely their fault.

This is true if you want to be the center of the universe.

Once your ego is finished making it all about you, however; and the particles of perspective begin to float down upon you like so many insightful fireflies, you are illuminated with an opportunity for enlightenment.

In that brightened state you realize that a promise accepted with unequivocable expectations of fulfillment is about as likely to occur as dining with a cannibal and being treated to fruits and vegetables.

Any promise exists in an environment with many independently moving parts – most of which are far beyond anyone’s control. A promise starts with the giver’s belief that they can fulfill it. They make it with intent, and intent is intrinsically truthful. But the person who extends a promise lives in the same world we do, and that world that does not run according to plans.

We know this. We just like to conveniently forget it when we are faced with a promise that cannot be fulfilled. If we are courageous enough to be truthful, we know there is no fault to find. Any blame is misplaced, unless we are audacious enough to blame the universe. In which case, we will need to go much further up the chain of command than holding the person who made a promise to us accountable.

That person who made the promise? They actually showed far more initiative than whoever – if there is someone – is in charge of conjugating the events of our world to meet our expectations.

Promises exist because it is human nature to believe they can be fulfilled. It’s the next step that’s crucial. We learn one of the most valuable lessons of all when we discover that the consequences of a broken promise is not blame. A promise can only be broken when it is incorrectly shaped only by our expectations.

So sayeth the StickMonkey

%d bloggers like this: