Promises Kept

Rather than keep on the job search track I have been following the last few issues I decided to detour to another path I have been traveling the past few days—it's about promises.  Specifically promises to myself.  The events of September 11, 2001 had a dramatic and long-lasting impact on me personally and professionally.  It did for other people and surely many people suffered much greater losses than I.

Around the time of the tragedy we all made promises to ourselves and others—spend more time with the kids, move to a quieter (i.e., safer) place, continue volunteering.  Some of us made permanent changes for the good; others went to an extreme and have since regretted the actions.  A majority of us got settled in “the new normal” much quicker than we expected.  In fact, we prided ourselves in how fast we were back to our seats, accessed retrieved data, and were able to block out uncomfortable reminders.  I didn’t go downtown for months after spending time working with survivors.

But what about those promises we made and the lessons supposedly learned? What happened?  I am embarrassed to say they have either gone by the wayside or have become seriously diluted.  This is why I try to actively remember this day in history hoping to rekindle the fire.

I have a few 9/11 rituals. I place white lilies with nine red roses at the firehouse in my neighborhood.  Nine men from that small unit died, one of them the relative of a colleague.  Every year the display gets smaller.  Last year, for the first time, someone walked passed and asked “why all the flowers?”  I happened by the firehouse yesterday and the men were meticulously cleaning the “wall of honor,” not the puebies, but the older, higher ranking guys, the ones who could have easily been on the wall.

I re-watch a documentary filmed by two French brothers.  Their goal was to record the initial weeks of an FDNY recruit stationed at the firehouse assigned to the World Trade Center.  They came away with footage for the ages.  Every time I view the tape I am struck by how mundane, it starts—washing trucks, putting out the flag, preparing food.  It’s a glimpse of the dignity of service and the joys of male camaraderie. It quickly turns into a nightmare.  Yet, throughout the film it is clear that you are viewing people who took an oath, made a promise to themselves and the public and now were being tested beyond their greatest fears.

My final ritual is to email my long-time friend Sue Farrelly.  She and I roomed in London.  Sue returned to her native Australia and I came back to NYC.  We exchange Christmas cards and have met face to face only three times in those many years. Sue was the first person to contact me on 9/11.  “Are you alright?” was the subject of her email.  I am forever grateful to her for that.  Somehow I felt connected and protected in what, at the moment, seemed like a very cruel world. In her own way she kept a never expressed promise to our friendship—to care.

So what promises did I make after 9/11?  I vowed to volunteer more and did change the structure of my business to allow that to happen.  I told myself I would be in greater contact with friends like Sue.  I have failed that one, still only writing at the holidays and on 9/11. I told myself I would learn more about Islam and did very little. I made a commitment to live in New York and am very glad I did.  But when it comes to focusing on what is really important, and who I value most, I have scored poorly.  I will try, again, on this special day to make and keep the promises to myself, the ones I love and those I serve. 

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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