Promises & Doing What You Say

“Say yes and never do it.”

-Austin Kleon quoting Mel Brooks, “Say Yes and Never Do It.” March 8, 2022

“…there are two types of people in the world: those who do what they say they’re going to do — and everyone else.”

-Anthony Bourdain, “Kitchen Confidential.” New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2000.

I was reading Austin Kleon’s quote of Mel Brooks, and it reminded me of the Bourdain quote, which I think about a lot. These quotes appear contradictory, but in fact, they aren’t.

Let assume you are a person who does what you say you are going to do. Competence and being someone that accomplishes things is going to attract people who will try to get you to work on their behalf.

Additionally, the people that don’t do what they say will want to help, influence and be involved in what you are doing. It makes them feel like they are a part of accomplishing something. And, if it doesn’t get done, they will be happy to discover you are just like them.

Mel Brooks is saying that if you want to be in charge of your own life, you need to know which promises to keep. Keep the promises you make to yourself and the people you care about. But, life runs a bit smoother if you can say yes to the people that want to side track you into their agenda or who have no real interest in what you are doing and not worry about actually doing it.