If you want to excel at anything in life you need to be committed. If you only want to be good enough to get by, then a commitment to excellence is not necessary. If you are committed to a cause, you don’t need to tell anyone. They can tell from your actions.
I often wonder how people can be happy or at peace with themselves if they don’t make a commitment to something, whether it be succeeding at work or improving at a skill. How do you reconcile expecting desired results without giving an honest effort to be the best you can be?
I know that if you go into any endeavor and say you will give it a try to see if it works, your half-hearted effort will probably fail.
Alan Page, NFL Hall of Fame defensive tackle and Minnesota Supreme Court justice, said: “I grew up with the sense that if you’re going to do something in life, do your best. When I was growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to be, what I would do, but I do remember being told, ‘If you’re going to be a garbage man, be the best garbage man you can be.’ That stuck. If it’s important to you and you want to be successful, there is only one person you can look at as being responsible for success or failure. That’s you.”
Wanting something and actually making a commitment to getting it are two different things. Your goals may be big and worthy, but do you have the passion to see them through? Success starts with a road map and a strategy, that’s just the beginning. You must be prepared to seeing the action plan through – making a commitment to get to the finish line.
To determine whether you are honestly prepared to make a commitment, Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard Business School suggests testing yourself with these questions:
- Do you feel strongly about the importance of your goal – why it’s necessary to achieve?
- Does your idea match your values and beliefs?
- Is this something you’ve dreamed about for a long time?
- Is your goal vital to the future of people you care about?
- Does your goal get you excited when you think about it and share it with others?
- Is it realistic? Are you sincerely convinced that your goal can be achieved?
- Are you willing to put your credibility on the line for it?
- Can you make your goal the primary focus of your activities?
- Are you willing to devote your personal time — evenings, weekends, vacations — to bring your goal to reality?
- Will you be able to reject criticism and negativity?
- Are you committed to the long term as you work toward your goal?
If you can answer yes to those questions, your chances for success improve dramatically. It’s the difference between wanting and succeeding.
NBA star LeBron James, four-time league MVP, NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist, has made a commitment to playing his best and in being a good citizen both on and off the court.
James sums it up this way: “Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not?”
If you still doubt the importance of commitment, consider this story.
At 6:50 p.m. as evening fell in Mexico City in 1968, John Stephen Akwari of Tanzania painfully hobbled into the Olympic stadium – the last man to finish the punishing marathon race. The victory ceremony for the winning runner was long over and the stadium was almost empty as Akwari – his leg bloody and bandaged – struggled to circle the track to cross the finish line.
Watching from a distance was Bud Greenspan, a documentary filmmaker famous for his Olympic movies. Intrigued, Greenspan walked over to the exhausted Akwari and asked why he had continued the grueling run to the finish line.
The young man from Tanzania did not have to search for an answer. He said: “My country did not send me 9,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 9,000 miles to finish the race.”
Mackay’s Moral: Commit or quit … it’s up to you.