(Distinctions are subtleties of language that, when gotten, cause a shift in a belief, behavior, value or attitude.)

When you underpromise it means you are promising to do less than you can do. It’s a good habit and you get a sense of relief or comfort from the reserve it creates – reserve that allows you to easily overdeliver.

Frequently overpromising comes from a desire for approval, or from a fear of losing a piece of business, or because we like (and need) the adrenaline rush associated with living life on the edge. It is this friction that is unhealthy, yet it is how many of us deliver results – at a high personal cost.

It may take a number of opportunities for you to consistently learn to underpromise. Start with small, unimportant (i.e. non-life-threatening!) occasions such as when you promise to send a letter (add a day), or when you promise to meet someone (add 15 minutes). As you start to experience the sense of calm strength which accompanies the reserves you are creating you will naturally grow to underpromise (and thus overdeliver) in all areas of your life. Enjoy the freedom!

Copyright 1995 Steve Straus. All rights reserved.