Friday, March 9, 2007

Honour Bound

When you make a promise what is your attitude towards keeping the promise?

I have experienced / read about three attitudes.

  1. I will not keep the promise if it inconveniences me - with no sense of dishonour and glibly tell the promisee "sorry". I call this the "Life owes me a living" attitude
  2. I will try my level best (till wet with sweat) and feel dishonoured if I don't live up to my promise. However I have the option of going up to the promisee and if the promisee releases me I can give up honourably. I call this the "Warrior" attitude. (I am a Sun Tzu fan)
  3. I will try till my blood runs dry and feel dishonored to even discuss my inability with the promisee. I call this the "Suicidal" attitude.
"Life owes me a living" is quite common.
"Warrior" is currently my sense of honour. When younger I was at "Life owes me a living" and I have paid a heavy price for that.
Many people are not aware of the differences since it is a cultural context. Their current behaviour seems natural and correct.
Being at "Life owes me a living" is almost certain to negatively impact all your close personal relationships.
If you work in an organisation / operate a business and you don't operate at the "Warrior" level, your boss /colleague / customer is not going to trust you. And with no trust you go nowhere.
A "Suicidal" attitude obviously leads to a lot of suicides.
So what is your sense of honour


3 comments:

Nitya said...

I think this is relative - if the situation is of minor imporantance to both parties - for example a promise to go to a movie - then the first option is good enough, if the situation is a professional promise - to deliver by a certain date, warrior is relevant, but a promise to take care of a sibling with alhzheimers may need the suicidal type of promise

Krishna (GK) said...

Aaah! the siren song of the voice of reason.

But thats a slippery slope. Where do you draw the line.
You make a promise.
As promiser you may decide that it is OK to say sorry. But the promisee feels betrayed.

The warrior way avoids that misunderstanding.


It is like that old story. If there is a cake to divide, let one person cut and the other person choose. That always results in a fair division.


Tell the promisee the reason you are finding it difficult to keep the promise and let him/her decide what is right.


Even if it is a promise to go to a movie, treat it as a warrior promise.

It is a culture. Every promise must be treated as a warrior promise. If you have not kept any promise you owe the promisee a debt of honor.

Anonymous said...

I feel If you have the "Warrior" attitude, there are remote chances of giving up.
Promisee's attitude also plays an important especially if you are saying "the Promisee releases me".