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Turn important goals into heartfelt promises!

Some years ago, when I was thinking about writing a book about the seven habits of SUCCESS and FAILURE, I shared many of my ideas with my mother, Virginia Hope Butler. I explained the concepts and how I thought this book would provide a guide for people who felt stuck, disempowered, and unable to make positive changes. She encouraged me to complete the book.

The book was still unwritten when my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. As her conditioned worsened, I decided to promise to her that I would finish the book, get it published, and dedicate it to her memory. We both fought back tears. I could see in her eyes that this promise meant a great deal to her. She smiled brightly despite the pain she was in and said: “You do that, Matthew. You do that.”

I’m proud to say I kept my promise. The resulting book, complete with a dedication to my mother’s memory, is HabitForce!

As a kid, whenever I’d tell friends that I would do something—perhaps pay back the 50 cents I borrowed—I’d often get that familiar question: Ya promise? It’s a powerful question that I often asked my friends too. In response, we’d often say: “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” Now that’s a serious promise!

As adults, we seldom ask others to promise to do something. And we rarely volunteer a promise. But my message is: Promises aren’t just for kids. Making a promise means your integrity is on the line. You’re accountable. You have some real skin in the game.

When making a promise, it’s important to use those two magic words: I Promise. It’s also a good idea to make your promise public and to write it down. A promise comes from the heart fueled by an emotional connection. A promise keeps you on track toward your goal. It’s an internal GPS system – from Goals to Promises = Success. GPS. After making and keeping a few promises, you’ll build up your achievement muscles and close the gap between your performance and your potential. You’ll gain confidence in your ability to make promises and keep them.

The promise I made to my mother has expanded. My promise and my purpose now is to share this special power with millions of people around the world. I took one big step toward keeping that promise with the launch of the first annual “Make A Promise Day” on May 4, 2010. Our local town board approved a “Make A Promise Day” proclamation and I encourage readers to ask their towns, cities, states and countries to do the same. Doing so will help to inspire others to make and keep promises and make the world a better place.

Here’s one special promise I’ve made to myself: I promise to follow the Golden Rule and always treat others as I would want to be treated myself. That promise widely made and kept by many others could truly change the world.

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Matthew Cossolotto (aka "The Podium Pro") is a former aide to House Speaker Jim Wright and Congressman Leon Panetta. He worked as a CEO-level speechwriter at MCI, Pepsi-Cola International, and GTE. The author of HabitForce! and All The World’s A Podium, Matthew is a guest speaker, speechwriter, and speech coach.

He is the creator of "Make A Promise Day" (May 4th -- May The Fourth Be With You!) and author of a forthcoming book about The Power of Making a Promise with a foreword by Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Matthew offers several Personal Empowerment Programs (PEPTalks) to corporations, colleges/schools, conferences, associations, and government agencies. His top three PEPTalks are: The Power of Making a Promise, The Joy of Speaking, and SUCCESS Is An Inside Job. His latest program is called "A Promise A Day – 30 Days to a Promising Future" to help others make life-changing personal empowerment promises.

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