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Winning At Working: Kill The Hype
by Nan Russell

She was waiting for me when I returned from a meeting. Standing outside my office door, I could tell by her downward glance, Jodie was not there to give me good news on the project. Despite her confident, enthusiastic and definitive style, she failed to deliver what she had pitched. It was not the first time.

Jodie operated counter to the Scottish proverb advising: "Never let your feet run faster than your shoes." She was full of ideas, full of promise, full of idealism, and short on results. Her over-promising was stalling her career. You see, results are what differentiate people who are winning at working from people who aren't. Results are how both companies, and people, prosper. As much as Jodie talked, with absolute confidence, about what she was going to do, she didn't do it.

There's no shortage of Jodies in the workplace. There are too many people talking about what they're going to do, want to do, or are thinking about doing. They paint intriguing pictures with their exuberance and that helps them get the assignment. But they fail to deliver on the promise. In my twenty years in management, I found them in both consultants and in-house staffs. I've even hired a few. I guess I wanted to believe they could do what they said.

But I learned they're much like town billboards claiming "best hamburger in the world," or books and magazines touting that I can have flat abs in five minutes a day, build self-esteem in ten days, and become a millionaire in five easy steps. While promises may be the essence of advertising, and over-promising may get books, magazines, products and services sold, they cause disappointment. Unfilled promises build our hopes and diminish our trust.

So, when you find someone who builds your hopes and enhances your trust, take note. You see, there's one talent that defines people who are winning at working. They don't disappoint. They deliver. They consistently produce what they say they will. And they do it again and again and again. They may pitch their ideas with passion and exuberance, or caution and logic, but they don't hype them.

People who are winning at working deliver what they promise. If anything they under-promise and over-deliver, without ever sandbagging. Every time they do what they say they're going to do, they build their credibility. And credibility builds careers. But, there's another benefit too. Self-esteem soars when you surprise and delight a boss, a client, or a teammate by delivering more than you promised. Want to start winning at working? Don't promise more than you can deliver. And kill the hype.

(c) 2005 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.

Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and instructor. Visit or contact Nan at

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