A good friend of mine is single. He’s such a catch and I often wonder how he’s not married, especially given his stated intent to be married. We got to talking about marriage and the conversation went to commitment. He said he’s a committed man – his business is successful, his circle of friends is rich, his lifestyle is full of athletics and travel – he commits to many goals and sees them through. So why is commitment a big deal, anyway?
Commitment to our goals is one level of engaging ourselves. The greater riches of commitment are cashed in when we commit to others. The act of committing to others is an act of giving, of service, and of sacrifice. By the very nature of committing to my wife I sacrifice some of my spontaneous impulses. By committing to my children I sacrifice some of the creature comforts I crave. By committing to my job I sacrifice some of the selfish freedoms I yearn for. The big deal about commitment is that it draws us out of our childish fits of self centered thinking and delivers us to the mature planes of self actualization.
If my wife were perfect (and she damn near is… ) I wouldn’t have to commit to her, I’d simply enjoy the pleasure of being with her. My commitment to her manifests in those times when being loving is difficult and I choose to look beyond the pettiness of my demands and insistences. If my job were perfect (again, pretty darn close) I wouldn’t have to be committed, I’d just show up and groove on the daily pleasure of working. Commitment is the fuel in the tank when my journey is not coasting downhill with ease, but climbing up hill with effort.
And what about leadership and commitment. Well, without commitment there is no leadership. The role of leading is laden with calls for serving, for sacrifice, for giving more than receiving. Only young and inexperienced leaders think that they should get accolades and rewards for their work. Most seasoned senior leaders know that their job is ever close to thankless. Leaders recognize that they must sacrifice bits and pieces of their insistent demands for self gratification in order to help achieve a vision of collective success. And it is their commitment that propels them forth to do so. The big deal about commitment is that the relationships and collaboration they engender have the power to move hearts, minds, and mountains.