The definition of com·mit·ment noun
1. the act of committing.
2. the state of being committed.
3. the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself.
4. a pledge or promise; obligation: We have made a commitment to pay our bills on time.
5. engagement; involvement: They have a sincere commitment to religion.
The most important single factor in individual success is COMMITMENT.
Commitment ignites action. 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".
WHERE TO PRACTICE
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 organisation's uniqueness and the fundamental direction in which it wants to head.
This first commitment leads to a common vision and purpose within the organisation.
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: Public, Results, Followers, and the Organisation.
HOW TO PRACTICE COMMITMENT
Effectively demonstrating commitment to others, to the organisation'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 pollyannaish.
Continuous improvement can be seen as "good is never good enough". Together they provide a needed balance. Both are essential to commitment.
WHEN IT 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.