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It's my word.

Our film company, Motion Dog Films, recently finished producing its 4th film in the 573.  Directing a feature film is one of the most challenging things I have attempted.  It is literally 3-dimensional chess.  It's demanding, time-consuming, and draining—I love it.  A film producer has to rely on actors and crew to show up on time and follow through on a production that can take a full year to complete.  Yikes. It is the ultimate team sport. Much like a swim team, an individual's performance impacts other swimmers and the team's results.

Working with an incredible group of people on this film reminded me of the importance of TRUST. Watching people consistently follow through on their promises, they demonstrate reliability-everyone likes that.  They are building their reputations with me and each other over time through their actions and consistency in keeping their word.  Building trust creates lasting relationships, nurtures deeper connections, and instills a sense of security. Building trust and teamwork is the key to success! Steel sharpens steel!

Male swimmer in pool after winning his race
Dealing with individuals who make promises and then fail to keep them can be incredibly frustrating.

But how do you deal with people or businesses who do not keep their word? Dealing with individuals who make promises and then fail to keep them can be incredibly frustrating. These broken promises can be costly for a business and deeply hurtful personally. Since many situations resolve themselves, good advice is to ignore the small stuff and move on to things that matter. It's not always that simple though, especially when the person is crucial to a project's success. Irresponsible behavior impacts the project and creates problems for the team. What do you do then?

Persons feet floating in water.
...usually, when a person always goes back on their word, it's rarely worth forcing them to keep it.  

One of the first things I try to do in managing such situations is to communicate clearly and directly with the person involved.  I try to express my feelings and concerns without being accusatory.  For example, I might say, "I was disappointed when you didn't follow through on what we discussed. Can you help me understand?"  This approach focuses on your feelings rather than attacking the other person's character, which can help avoid defensiveness and promote a more constructive conversation. If you attack someone and tell them they broke their word, they will surely get defensive and dig in their heels to justify their actions.  In the end, I've found that usually, when a person consistently goes back on their word, it's rarely worth forcing them back on the project.  

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Underwater photo of girls swim team
Teams rely on each other to show up and do your best.

The best strategy is to proactively establish clear expectations through written communication that sets out the consequences of broken commitments.  Then, when someone fails to keep their promise, I remind them of our agreement and discuss the impact of their actions.  A well-defined agreement can serve as a reminder to all parties of what they are supposed to do.  This approach usually encourages everyone to keep their commitments to ensure a positive outcome.

Underwater photo of man with swim cap and goggles on and blowing bubbles from nose
Agreements remind everyone about their commitment...
swim pool with hands on edge ready to pull out of the pool

Taking a proactive approach can help the person stay on track and reduce the likelihood of disappointments. Additionally, seeing it in writing has a funny way of finding out if the person can genuinely fulfill their promises. It may help them develop better time management and organizational skills when they understand the consequences.

Underwater photograph of someone diving into the pool
When one door closes, others are sure to open.

You must surround yourself with reliable and trustworthy people in business and in life.  Letting go of a toxic relationship is healthy. When one door closes, others are sure to open—it's so true!  Never be afraid to move on.

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Get Out There! Build your character. Learn something new. Do more. Do anything. What one person can do, another can do. That sunken sofa will be fine without you. 

Tom smugala

Director. Writer. Photographer.

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1 Comment

Can’t wait to see it!

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