Most professionals are extremely confident in their abilities; however, too many times we are so eager to prove our value that we promise unrealistic performance. Making an impact must be balanced with consideration of our limitations and selective choice of how we respond to assignments, tasks or projects. You will not be frowned upon for timely completing a task, but you will quickly earn a bad reputation (that is hard to shake) if you fail to deliver what you promise.

This was a hard lesson for me to learn. I am always eager to prove my worth and very capable of getting assignments. I will work harder and longer to complete an important task. Unfortunately, other responsibilities tend to creep up on talented people, which sometimes get in the way of delivering assignments as promised. Fortunately, my mentor frequently reminds me to be realistic about my capabilities and current work load before promising anything. 

When asked how quickly you can get something done, understand the project time constraints and then “sandbag.”  Build in a cushion so you are sure to deliver as promised.  Nothing irritates me more (or irritates those I report to) than making a specific promise and then not delivering. If you can complete a project by 3:00 pm, give yourself some breathing room and promise it by 5:00 pm. If you get it done by 3, turn it in and prove your efficiency and value.  If something comes up and you do not get it completed by 5, you are still meeting your promised deadline.

Such a simple concept, yet one that many professionals overlook. This is sometimes a difficult process for motivated professionals to master; however, it is a trait that will allow you to consistently perform at the highest levels. Your peers and supervisors will come to expect excellence in the form of meeting or exceeding expectations.  Underpromise and then Overdeliver – make it a regular practice and watch your stock soar.