Follow Through

Follow Through by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

The “island” kept getting smaller and smaller as the waters rose. … Technically, the “island” was really a sandbar – a sandbar that, at low tide, had been a good place to deposit a tent, our lunch, and the non-divers. The plan was simple: drop off the non-divers and all the gear associated with lunch, go for a dive a short distance away, and then come back to the sandbar to eat lunch and relax. Simple enough.

We told the group we dropped off that we’d be back in 90 minutes. Time for us to take the boat to the dive site, dive, and come back to the “island.” … So, what did we do? We executed the plan. Almost to the minute. We went to the dive site, geared up, spent an hour under water, and headed back to the “island.” Upon returning, this is what we saw. Wow! Talk about being “up a creek without a paddle!”

Thankfully, all the non-divers, including the kids can swim. Thankfully, there was still a bit of “island” remaining for them to stand on. Thankfully, they had plenty of sunscreen, as they had to abandon the tent and wait in the sun. Thankfully, those of us on the boat followed through on our commitment. We said 90 minutes and we were back in 90 minutes. What would have happened if we had not followed through? Well, at best, the stranded group would have been angry because our tardiness caused them to tread water.

At worst, well …

This story had a happy ending and was kinda amusing, even to the group level on the “island.” It created a good story, some great pictures and some hearty laughs. In my immediate family, I was one of the divers but my wife and daughter were in the group that had been stranded on the “island.” I’m glad I followed through. So are they.

As we headed back from our outing, I thought about the importance of follow through and the consequences of “follow through failure.” What if we’d been 2 hours late returning? What if someone at work is counting on you to meet a deadline? What if a friend is counting on you for a ride to work? What if the rest of your team needs you to complete a task before they can get their work done?

Follow through is critically important – to businesses, to families, to friends. With it, you build trust and credibility. Without it, bad things can happen. People can get hurt. You can lose money. Companies can lose customer. Relationships can be destroyed. People can die.

Looking back, it’s easy to see that we could’ve paid more attention to the tides. We could’ve kept everyone on the boat for the entire day. We could’ve left a boat behind for the “island” group. Though we didn’t do any of these, we did keep our commitment. We followed through.

As we neared the “island” it was very apparent that both groups were glad to see each other. We were relieved the water hadn’t risen higher (though we actually knew the tide schedule and had calculated accordingly). We were relieved the stranded group was safe. They were relieved to see the boat. But most of all, whether they consciously realized it or not, they were relieved we followed through and came back on time.

Are you good at following through? How do you feel when others do not follow through and meet their commitments?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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