The Magic of Commitment

Are you committed? Committed to reaching your goals? Committed to being the best you can be? Or are you “trying” to reach your goals? When asked what your goals are, do you reply with a confident “I’m going to…” Or is your reply wishy-washy and namby-pamby? “Well, if nothing goes wrong, I think maybe, I might sort of try to get close to increasing my business over last year. I hope.” 

Someone once asked me, “How do I  know if I’m committed? Commitment is easy when things go well, but what happens when things go wrong? How do you know how you’ll respond when you run into obstacles? Besides, we can’t predict the future. Things can change.”

It’s true. Things do change. We can’t predict the future. Something might go wrong. But do we choose not to commit because we can’t predict the future? Circumstances, according to George Bernard Shaw, were a poor excuse for not achieving results. “The people who get on in this world are the ones who look for the circumstances that they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them!”

Commitment itself is a catalyst, a trigger for achievement. One of my favourite quotes is from Goethe. He said:

“Until one is committed—there is hesitancy. The chance to draw back, and therefore, always ineffectiveness.

Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth (the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans), that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then, providence moves, too.All sorts of things occur to help one that would have never otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from that decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidence, meetings, and material assistance which no one could dream would come their way. Whatever you can do—or dream you can do…Begin It! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Consider the immense power in that quote! Until one is committed, there is hesitancy. The chance to draw back, and therefore, always ineffectiveness. I remember hearing someone speak on the subject of  “Sales Karate”. He compared the commitment required to break a board with your bare hands to that required to be successful in selling. If you hold anything back as you bring your hand swiftly down, you won’t break the board, you’ll break your hand! For a few moments, you need to be 100% committed and focused on your goal. Anything less leads to failure. (And pain!) The same is true in business – when you say “I’ll try to reach my goals”, you’re holding back and already making up excuses for failure before you begin. But, commitment and intensity can break through even difficult barriers.

…the moment one definitely commits oneself, then, providence moves, too. Have you ever experienced this “providence”? You’ve waffled on a decision, thought about it, stewed over it, and then finally made a commitment and then, like magic, things fall into place. You get a phone call out of the blue. It’s someone you haven’t seen in years, or a stranger. They present an idea that you hadn’t even considered. An article in a magazine triggers a way to handle the obstacles you thought were there. A surprise refund cheque from Revenue Canada arrives at just the right time to offset some of your costs. Someone else quits a job, creating an opening that you couldn’t have anticipated. A new product is launched that solves the issue that was holding you back.

In other words, “All sorts of things occur to help one that would have never otherwise occurred. A whole stream of events issues from that decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidence, meetings, and material assistance which no one could dream would come their way.”

Notice that these things happen after the decision is made, not before. Sometimes you need to take the plunge before you have all your ducks lined up and all contingencies planned. I could rhyme off several personal examples that validate this truth.

  • A commitment to get married enabled us to have our wedding, complete with a live band, both ministers, a dance hall, and all the trimmings of a traditional wedding within 17 days of the decision. (A good decision, I might add, 40+ years later.)
  • A commitment to start my own training company; finding the ways and means to do it within 2 weeks. (Still operating successfully after 30 years.)
  • A commitment to find property in the country and build a house (that we couldn’t afford) in order to raise our children in a rural environment. We found the perfect property in less than a week, found the perfect contractor, and in spite of encountering significant obstacles, we moved into our newly built home four months later.
  • A commitment to start a call centre business and meet the contract requirements of our first customer. We had to find office space, install telephone lines, purchase furniture, recruit, select, hire and train all new staff and be ready to go within seven working days. We did it. And at one point that business employed over 100 people.

These examples have little to do with intelligence, innate skills or luck. They have to do with having a dream, setting a goal and making a commitment. Once that commitment was made, not hesitating, holding back or second-guessing the decision. You need confidence in yourself and your people that you can do whatever is necessary to handle the obstacles as they arise. But I think the hardest part is getting started. That’s why I believe that Goethe’s last lines are the most powerful:

Whatever you can do—or dream you can do…Begin It! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

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October 13, 2015

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