“(Commitment is) doing what you said you were going to do, long after the mood you were in when you said you were going to do it has passed.”

James Brown, Venture Capital Fund Founder

We all make commitments to others. Sometimes we wish we hadn’t made those commitments. It happens to me all the time. I’ll set an appointment with a potential client. I’ll say “yes” to helping someone in their yard. I’ll tell my family I will take a day off from work. But, then something happens.

Keep Commitments

The inconvenience of that commitment tempts me to back off. Another and more lucrative client wants to meet with me at the same time. I have a chance to do something fun instead of helping someone else clean up their yard. I am swamped at work on the day I promised to take off.

My willingness to keep my commitments to others is a direct reflection of my character. My Courage, Integrity, Selflessness, and Duty are all challenged when I am tempted to break a commitment I made to someone else.

But if I want to be a Leader of Character, I have to DO what I want to BE! In other words, I have to practice character in every circumstance, no matter how I feel about it at the moment.

Commitments Test My Character

It takes Courage, Integrity, and Selfless to do my Duty and see a commitment as a moral obligation to another person.

  • It takes Courage when I delay an appointment with a high potential client to fulfill a previous commitment.
  • It takes Integrity when I keep my word to others no matter the circumstances.
  • It takes Selflessness when I put my own needs, desires and convenience on the back burner and put others first.

Each time I make the choice to back away from a prior commitment, I damage my character. Each time I make a choice it makes it easier to make that same choice again. Each of these seemingly small choices leads me to become someone who is unreliable and cannot be trust by others.

My choices are either leading me closer to being a Leader of Character or further away.

Courage, Integrity, and Selflessness are required for us to do our Duty. My father and I define Duty as:

Taking action based on both our assigned tasks and moral obligations.

We provide straightforward definitions like this for Courage, Humility, Integrity, Selflessness, Duty and Positivity in our book Becoming a Leader of CharacterSix Habits that Make or Break a Leader at Work and at Home.

The Bottom Line:

When a Leader of Character makes a commitment, it becomes a moral obligation to fulfill that commitment. My feelings, my convenience, and my schedule do not provide me with wiggle room because a Leader of Character keeps his/her commitments. Period.

Leaders of Character keep their commitments because it is the right thing to do.

James Brown (JB) is a West Point graduate, has an MBA from Harvard and a JD from New York University School of Law. He is unique in the venture capital world because he refuses to invest in a company that does not have a Leader of Character in charge.

JB’s definition of commitment is a brilliantly simple truth about how so many of us build or destroy our character.


What damage does breaking a commitment do to our relationships?

You can purchase the book Becoming a Leader of Character through Amazon here: bit.ly/LOCBook

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