I had the opportunity recently to work with an energetic, well-meaning startup founder. She was very proud that she’d spent less than $500 during a 30-day marketing effort and had—through word of mouth—several back-to-back jobs.

Based on a recommendation from a friend, I hired her for an important, time-sensitive job. We agreed on the scope, duration, and costs of the job. We signed a contract—a commitment.

She failed to complete the job on time, and because she fell behind, she tried to make up time by cutting corners. The quality of the work suffered. With each day past the deadline, she apologized for being behind and promised to catch up that day. Unfortunately, she didn’t deliver as she had promised.

When she finished, we talked about why the project was so chaotic as a mentoring opportunity. She again apologized profusely and had a list of reasons for the chaos—equipment failures, family problems, car issues, heavy traffic.… However, she failed to ever describe an action she could have taken to respond to the obstacles—hiring extra support, buying better equipment, leaving home earlier.…

Following through on our commitments, keeping our word, are cornerstones of successful lives. Doing so is one of the elements of trust. We cannot make excuses. We must just do the work that we committed to do. We must control what we can control. We must be reliable.