“Because I said I would.”
Five words. A sentence that breaks a few basic rules of the English language. A string of words that is usually a sarcastic remark.
But “because I said I would” is really so much more.
Last weekend I had the privilege to attend a conference in Indianapolis. The meeting consisted of multiple speakers and sessions. One of the keynote speakers was an Ohio University grad named Alex Sheen.
Former bobcat speaking? I’m listening.
Long story short, Sheen went viral after his father died and he posted the eulogy online. His father was a man of his word and Sheen made a promise to continue that tradition, as well as help others keep theirs. Sheen gave out white promise cards with “because I said I would” at the bottom. Cards that would remind people to continue what they said they would achieve or what they would do for someone else. Sheen vowed to give out promise cards to whoever asked for them.
And he did just that.
To this day, over 5.4 million promise cards have been sent out. Sheen has walked 245 miles in 10 days in honor of three women held captive for 10 years. He has helped rebuild small businesses in Ferguson, Missouri after looters destroyed them. He has provided over 100 Disneyland tickets to children battling cancer and their families, so, for one day, they can celebrate like any normal kid.
But the greatest service of all is what Sheen did through the movement.
Thanks to Sheen, he has helped people overcome any hardships that they’ve experienced in their lives. He has helped people admit any wrongdoings and lessen the guilt that they could have faced. He has helped people set goals and reach them.
Sheen holds the company and his promises in the highest regard. Making over 1 million dollars a year, Sheen donates most of it to charity and lives off a humble salary because he knows this movement is about helping others reach their potential, not a profit.
As Sheen said, a promise is exciting in the beginning. You’re happy to accept and say you’ll do something, but just as a resolution fades when the work gets too tough, so do promises.
It’s easy to quit. It’s easy to say no and tell yourself that you’re just one person and you can’t make a difference. It’s easy to just push it off and make an additional empty promise with an unclear due date.
But what’s hard is pushing through. Asking yourself “Why did I make the promise?” and “Who does it help?” is much more difficult, but much more rewarding. No one said it was going to be easy or fun … but these small gestures push us beyond average and make us extraordinary in the eyes of those we help.
So I want to take the time to tell you to write down a few promises. Whether small or large, whether it helps you or a group, whether it’s one you want to share or one you’ll keep personally to yourself —make these promises. There’s always next year until there isn’t anymore … start now.
I promise to make a difference in someone’s life before I graduate from college …
I promise to be a person who listens with an open mind …
I promise to try to be a better person every day of my life …
I promise to remember that no moment is guaranteed except the one I’m living in …
I promise to live a life worth living….
Because I said I would.
What are you promising?