It has taken me six decades of living to truly realize how unusual it is to meet someone who's completely reliable. It's not that people don't mean well--most of us do--but to meet someone who will consistently follow through and live their promises is exceedingly rare.

So it occurred to me, the last time I was given a "customer satisfaction" survey and asked to assign a number of stars to a ride-share driver, that we ought to have those for everybody in our lives. Heck, we really ought to have them for ourselves.

Think about it: If people who came in contact with you were asked to apply a rating to your interaction, how many stars do you deserve? From your relationships with your subordinates to your interactions with store clerks--and your aunts, uncles, and cousins--picture them with their finger hovering over the image of star ratings. Did you earn that fifth star?

Over the past 20 years, with the rise of the individual as a brand--each person as CEO of their own life--we should all be on this page now where we can evaluate ourselves the way we evaluate apps, services, and companies. So do it: Take the full measure of your business and personal life, including as co-worker, businessperson, friend, relative, partner.

I did just that. I took a good, long, heartless look at myself and realized that even to give myself a top rating--let alone ask it of others--I need to be able to give myself top marks in three areas. To what degree am I doing what I love? 2. To what degree am I serving others? 3. And to what degree do others love the service that I provide them? And I should be able to give myself five stars for each of those, before ever asking other people to see me in such a favorable light.

I have vowed that I will have a contractual attitude toward relationships with other people--a personal variation on "the customer comes first." My tactic is to be the guy whose word is his bond. That seems like the thing that makes me worth that fifth star. Because if you're like most people--and I freely admit I am--you tend to let promises fly out of your mouth without realizing how important they are to the people you're saying them to.

People hear your words as a pledge to follow up and deliver. At least, they should be able to hear that, trust it, and live it. There's no such thing as a small commitment; each one feels gigantic to the recipient, from "I'll see you Sunday" to "Let me show you a better way to do that project."

Let's be five-star people in the new year, okay? Let's all quit the mindless lip flapping and hold ourselves completely accountable to our own words. I'm going to, and I hope you'll join me. That will give you a competitive advantage over 99 percent of those people whose word is not their bond. It will also make the world a better place, and we certainly could use some more of that.