I was involved in facilitating an athletic even for a school some time ago, and the coach for the wrestling team asked me to introduce the members of the opposing team who were coming in from out of town. I didn’t really think much of it. I was felt at ease using a microphone and speaking in front of a crowd, so I agreed to do it without question. I didn’t even bother doing any research. What was the worst that could happen?
When it came time to introduce the wrestlers, though, I stumbled and stammered my way all through the introduction. Why? Because, although I hadn’t realized it, they were all Czechoslovakian and I couldn’t pronounce their names! It was an embarrassing moment for me that I’ve never been able to forget, but it taught me an important lesson…
Sometimes, it seems that we commit too quickly. As leaders, it is natural for us to want to help. We see opportunities to serve, and we jump on them. That excitement and eagerness is a good thing, but it can also get us into a lot of trouble if not tempered with some caution and discretion.
We should never commit to something if we aren’t able to deliver on it. In the end, it’s better to say no than it is to commit to something that we don’t end up following through on. You’ve heard the expression “under promise, and over deliver.” Well, that’s exactly what the best leaders among us do. They know what they’re getting themselves into before they commit to things. Learn from my mistakes: if you haven’t learned how to pronounce the names, don’t agree to make the introductions!