Healthy Leadership: Commitment Ignites Action

For as long as I can remember my Dad always said,  “You’re either IN or you’re OUT. Make up your mind.”  When I was a kid, I watched him play Baci (Italian bowling on dirt outdoors) and I heard him yell this out when teams were being created.  You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  The tone was get out of the way if you’re out.

He would also say it if he was going somewhere and wanted to know who was joining him or if anyone in the family, including myself, was undecided about anything in life.  Dad does not suffer fools and to him anyone who is wishy-washy or ambiguous as we say after college — is a fool.   The way he sees it if you have one leg in the car and one leg out, you’re going to get crippled.  Either put both legs in the car or get out of the car all together.  He will not ignite the engine of the car until you make up your mind.

Later, I learned NBA Legends on Management and my Dad think alike.  Pat Riley said, “You’re either IN or you’re OUT.  There is no such thing as life in-between.”   Dad could probably play Pat Riley in a film.  Since Dad’s not an actor, they got someone who reminds me of Dad — Al Pacino.   Pacino will star as Pat Riley in the tentatively titled Showtime.”

What my Dad and Riley are really talking about is COMMITMENTGoethe agrees with them too.

Goethe said, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that 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 never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

Michael Jordon knows about commitment.  He said, “I’m not out there sweating for three hours every day just to find out what it feels like to sweat…I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come.”

We can rewind to 1835 to find John Anster saying,  “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Only engage, and then the mind grows heated. Begin it, and the work will be completed.”

On pages 214-30 in Faust, there is a passage that reads:

“When indecision brings its own delays, And days are lost lamenting over lost days.  Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Why so much hulabaloo about COMMITMENT?

According to Prism, Ltd., the most important single factor in individual success is COMMITMENT. Commitment ignites action. Turns out, Dad and Pat Riley know what they’re talking about.

To commit is to pledge yourself to a certain purpose or line of conduct. It also means practicing your beliefs consistently. There are, therefore, two fundamental conditions for commitment. The first is having a sound set of beliefs. There is an old saying that goes, “Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.” The second is faithful adherence to those beliefs with your behavior. Possibly the best description of commitment is “persistence with a purpose”.

Many successful business people are hailed as visionary leaders. On careful inspection they are found to be individuals who hold firmly to a simple set of commitments, usually grounded in beliefs such as “the best product money can buy”, or the highest possible customer service“. It is the strength of these commitments, religiously followed, that led to their business success.

WHERE TO PRACTICE COMMITMENT

It appears that effective leaders hold dearly to a half dozen commitments. The first, and most basic, of these is a commitment to a set of values, principles or beliefs. These underlying principles define both the organization’s uniqueness and the fundamental direction in which it wants to head. This first commitment leads to a common vision and purpose within the organization.

The second commitment is to oneself, to how one acts as a leader. An effective leader possesses a strong sense of personal integrity and self confidence. This leads to a willingness to share the credit for success. Another side to this commitment is a deliberate emphasis on continual self-improvement.

The combination of a strong, positive commitment to self and to a set of principles serve as a foundation to effectively maintain the remaining four commitments. These commitments are to: customers, results, employees, and the organization.

Everyone has a customer and is a customer to someone else. Customers are usually thought of as external to the organization who needs your product or service. A question worth asking is, “How much are others willing to pay for my work?” The price your customers are willing to pay measures its values in their eyes.

Besides serving customers, all organizations target specific results. Given the large number of demands placed on all of us, it is important to concentrate on achieving the most important goals and objectives. Commitment to results is largely determined by how clear priorities are, what actions get rewarded, and what risks are being taken to improve intended results.

The next commitment is to the people. The quality of the organization’s commitment to customers and results is largely based upon the quality of its commitment to people. The simple reason for this is that it is these people who serve the customer and achieve results. How are people treated in the organization? Commitment to people is largely the product of treating people with respect, challenging them, and giving them effective feedback on how they are doing.

The final leadership commitment is to the larger organization. Other departments, higher management, the organization’s overall strategy & mission are important. Communication is the key with this commitment. How people talk to, and about, each other greatly affects the quality of cooperation. How open are the channels of communication up, down, and across? Can management be challenged? Will people support management decisions and changes?

Balancing all six commitments is the key to well directed leadership. When management supports its employees, they will be able and willing to achieve intended results, When these results support customer needs and expectations, customers will support the organization with their business. A strong and healthy organization can then continue to show commitment to its people. The glue that holds this process together is the values and leaders in the organization.

HOW TO PRACTICE COMMITMENT

Effectively demonstrating commitment to others, to the organization’s basic principles, and to oneself is never easy. The truth is, demonstrating commitment is hard work. Wavering commitment is usually seen as no commitment at all. The only way to achieve a reputation for commitment is through determination and persistence. Genuine commitment stands the test of time.

Day to day, commitment is demonstrated by a combination of two actions. The first action is called supporting. Genuine support develops a commitment in the minds and hearts of others. This is accomplished by focusing on what is important and leading by example. It is not uncommon for people to be either confused as to what is important, or lose sight of it over time. Supporting means concentrating on what adds value, spotlighting what’s working, and rewarding others who are focusing on what is important and leading by example. A crucial aspect of true support is standing up to those who would undermine commitment, those whose words or actions show disrespect.

The second action underlying commitment is called improving. Improving stretches our commitment to an even higher level. Commitment means a willingness to look for a better way and learn from the process. It focuses on eliminating complacency, confronting what is not working, and providing incentives for improvement. The spirit of improving is rooted in challenging current expectation and ultimately taking the risk to make changes. These changes are based more on an optimism in the future than dissatisfaction in the past. It is embodied in the reply of car maker Professor Porsche, who, when asked which was his favorite model in the long line of Porsche automobiles replied: “I haven’t built it yet!”

It is the combination of both supporting and improving behaviors that makes up the practice of commitment. Separately neither action is capable of sustaining commitment. Promoting alone can come across as a shallow and pollyannish. Continuous improvement can be seen as “good is never good enough”. Together they provide a needed balance. Both are essential to commitment.

WHEN COMMITMENT IS MOST IMPORTANT

Commitment is most difficult and most readily proven during tough times. How someone weathers the storms most clearly demonstrates their basic beliefs. In antiquity, Epicurus stated: “…a captain earns his reputation during the storms.” When your competition scores big against you, when the money dries up, or when the glamour of success wears off, this is when it is easiest to compromise your commitments. The real test comes when you can hold the line against the easy route of compromise.

Fortunately, paying the price that commitment commands has payoffs worth the cost – a reputation for integrity and, even more important, the commitment of others in return. Commitment is a two-way street. You only get it if you are willing to give it.

Source: Prism, LTD

The above can be applied to other areas of your life.  Commitment ignites action.  Think about that. You commit first.  Then, you do.  Where does that begin? Your mind.  Thought. It’s one of the reasons good things take time. Bad things happen fast.  It’s because we “think” about good things before taking action.  It’s not uncommon for people to get asked, “What were you thinking?” when something bad happens. The response is usually, “I wasn’t.”  Take some time to think about what you are committed to and what steps (action) you need to take to ignite that goal.  This can be applied to Business, Health, Fitness, Sports, Relationships, and Finances.

“There is a difference between interest and commitment.  When you’re interested you do it only when circumstances permit.  When you’re committed, you accept no excuses, only results.”

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’ ~Goethe

“Commitment doesn’t mean you never fail.  It means you commit to a specific outcome, so you continue to take actions  until you get desired results. The actions you take may change, but your commitment to the result never wavers.” ~Maria Dorfner

English: From the left: Shaquille O'Neal, Pat ...
Image via Wikipedia

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