“Desire is the key to motivation, but it is determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable to attain the success you seek.” ~ Mario Andretti
We all have certain things we want out of life. Call them goals, dreams, desires or whatever else you want to call them – it is commitment that brings them into reality. Without commitment they are nothing more than mental pictures in our minds. This applies to every endeavor in life; business, marriage, parenting, going back to college, losing weight or just about else you can think of.
Just think about all of the failed marriages in the U.S. today. Almost 50% of all first marriages end in divorce, 70% of all second marriages and over 80% of subsequent marriages fail. The court system recognizes a number of different justifiable reasons for divorce; irreconcilable differences, adultery, verbal and/or physical abuse but they all boil down to one thing – no matter how madly in love the couple was when they exchanged their vows of marriage, at some point along the way, one or both parties lost any sense of commitment they may have once held. Not to stereotype (the road certainly goes both ways), but the husband that commits adultery lacks commitment. The wife that nags continuously and drives her husband away lacks commitment.
Certainly at one time the element of commitment was there, but over time coupled with the difficulties of life, dedication to commitment wanes. I’m sure at some point, politicians truly believe the promises they make, but once they are faced with opposition and the possibility of losing votes for re-election, selective memory takes over and campaign promises are long forgotten. Every year people make New Year’s resolutions with every intention of seeing them through, but when difficulties arise and it becomes a major inconvenience to find time to get to the gym or to spend more quality time with the kids or to be more active in the church or community, commitment turns to indifference and in extreme cases even into resentment. Commitment, whether on the job, in the marriage or to personal change is one of the most difficult processes to follow through on. Complete and enthusiastic commitment is essential to all achievement.
There is much written about securing employee buy-in and team building to increase commitment, but what can the individual do on their own to increase their personal commitment? I’m not going to get into the relationship aspect of commitment. That’s for another time. Right now, I want to talk about increasing personal commitment on the job.
In the workplace, commitment isn’t always easy because unlike personal relationships, it is rarely your own ideals and goals that you are being asked to commit to. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, it just means that you have doubts. You may doubt the possibility of achieving the goal. You may even doubt your own ability to deliver. You want to commit but see too many “unknowns”, yet you know you are expected to commit, so you say “yes” to the commitment but probably only mean “maybe”. Rather than simply paying lip service, ask for clarification. Let it be known that you want to make a commitment in full but really would like more information so you fully understand what kind of giant you may be facing.
Commitment begins with engagement. The more engaged you are in whatever it is you are committing to, the more apt you are to stay committed. It’s up to you to stay engaged at work. So the first priority becomes making absolutely certain you are in alignment with what your team is trying to accomplish. Are you ready for the kind of commitment it will take for you to do your part? That means don’t wait for things to happen that might keep you engaged, make them happen. Make certain you stay actively involved as a member of the team. Identify your strengths and use them to be a mentor to your teammates who may not possess the same skill set. Reach out to other teammates who may be able to help you in areas that are not your strength. Examine your values and make sure they align with the team. Perhaps most important, find your happy place. If you’re not happy with your personal life, chances are good you are distracted and not fully engaged at work.
Self examination and being 100% honest with yourself is also critical. Ask yourself the difficult questions. “Am I fully committed to this team?” If the answer is no, the next question must be, “How to I become more engaged and committed to this team?”