Commitment: A Life-Lesson Learned By A 12 Year Old Boy!

by John Zajaros on October 2, 2009

I just received an email from one of my freelancers, hired from one of the outsourcing platforms so popular online. The email took me back to 1967 in an instant and I thought I would share it with you. It is a valuable lesson, one I learned early on, one I still struggle to honor and live up to every day! Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I crash and burn…but I have never forgotten it and it has shaped my life!

Here goes:

When I was a little boy, I went around the neighborhood and asked people
if I could cut their grass for $5.

I had quite a few jobs and quite a few people who said “No thank you!”

I took one job and the lady was very nice. I was no more than 12 and I
still remember her and that lawn 42 years later.


Because as soon as I started the job I knew I was going to be doing a lot more
work than I had initially thought I was taking on.

The lawn was there, the lady was there, everything was pretty
apparent…cut the grass and get paid.

Well, the job was taking me a long time!

About half way through, I had had enough! I stomped up to the front door and told the
lady I had made a big mistake and that I needed $10 for the job.

She smiled very politely and said, I will never forget this…

“You made a commitment. You took on the job and I agreed to your price, a
price you set in advance.

Now, you have two choices:

One, you can finish the job and we will talk about an increase on the next job,
providing you complete this one to the best of your ability.


Two, you can quit right now and I will never hire you again.”

I hesitated for a moment, then nodded and went back to work.

Every bone in my body was screaming “QUIT!”

That lady hired me every week for the next 4 years for one job or
another, I always made sure the money was out of the way up front,
and she also referred me to all of her friends and relatives in the area.

That nice lady was responsible for hundreds of dollars every year.

Not bad for a little kid who almost didn’t finish the job he was
initially hired to do…because it was too much, too big, and too tiring!

That job paid me many times over.

If all I had focused on was that first job…and the extra $5 bucks, what
would have been the outcome?

I would have quit, a bad habit at any age…a black hole at 12!

Instead I bucked up, sucked in my pride, yes grumbled a bit, and finished
the job.

Had I walked away, I would never have made all the money to come over the
years and I definitely would never have learned one of the most powerful lessons
in my life…at any age!

You make a commitment, you keep it!

Commit to a task, you finish it!

Have I broken commitments since then, no one is perfect, but in reality only a few times…
and only when deathly ill. Even then, I did everything I could to honor the commitment
made before finally saying…


…and finding someone else to finish the task. Even then, it was like being
tortured beyond the breaking point.

I will never forget that lady or the lesson! I owe her a great deal!

The End!

Just thought I would throw that in!

After all, every 12 year old thinks all stories have an ending…right or wrong!

In fact, life is a process, a progression toward an end. The end is up to you!

The process, the progression defines your ultimate success…

and the lessons learned from little old ladies when you are 12 last a lifetime!


Professor John P. J. Zajaros, Sr.
Skype: johnzajaros1

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