I shared a difficult scenario I’m going through with a peer of mine the other day. As she walked out of my office she turned back, looked me right in the eyes, and said with conviction, “I’ve got your back. Let me know if you need any support.” Wow! Many people say the right thing in the right moment…but few say it with such certitude! I knew she meant what she said. I knew I could count on her.

But that’s not always the case with other people…or other situations…or even with ourselves, is it?

Many of us are familiar with Ken Blanchard’s quote about the difference between being interested and being committed:

When you’re interested, you do it when it’s convenient. When you’re committed, you accept no excuses, only results!

I can speak from both ends of the spectrum here. We are interested when:

  • We say one thing and do another
  • We always have one foot out the door
  • We can’t look someone in the eye and say, “Yes I will!”
  • We  simply go through the motions
  • We allow the external environment to dictate what we do
  • We don’t know what we want
  • We succumb to peer pressure
  • We lose our conviction and follow the path of least resistance

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it is a bad thing to be interested. I’m simply suggesting we call it what it is. Too often people say they are committed to something or to someone and yet their actions don’t show it…present company included.

To me, we are committed when:

  • Our motto is not “if” but “when”
  • We acknowledge the fear and do it anyway
  • Our actions match our words
  • We are driven by the vision of our desired results
  • We can look someone in the eyes and say, “Yes I will!”
  • We view life’s obstacles as creative challenges instead of dead-ends

Have you ever wanted something so bad that nothing…and I mean nothing…could ever prevent you from getting your results? Have you ever taken an immediate action, without question or self-judgment, because you knew it was the right thing to do? Are there people in your life that you’d drop whatever you are doing, at any time, in order to come to their assistance in a moment’s notice? That’s commitment!

I was a lousy public speaker early in my career. I had every symptom imaginable when I spoke…from the quivering voice…to the buckets of underarm perspiration…to the Safari Desert sitting inside my mouth. And yet, I was committed to being a public speaker. The beauty of being committed is that you don’t have to know the how something will happen; you just need to trust that it will happen.

 I remember like it was yesterday. I took a job as the Director of Student Activities at Chapman College (now Chapman University) in Orange, CA. I recall going into the men’s bathroom one morning in the student union and there, sitting on top of the urinal, was a brochure for Toastmasters International. I kid you not. As I glanced at it, I knew immediately that I finally found the how to becoming an exceptional speaker…and I never turned back. I not only became an active Toastmaster for the better part of my adult life, but I ended up becoming the Manager of Membership for the World Headquarters of Toastmasters International. How’s that for commitment!

Whenever my results in life are half-ass, I know I have a commitment problem. This usually means that I need to either recommit (or, as some like to say, “Sh*t or get off the pot!”) or admit that I’m only interested.

I had a woman in one of my Leading From Within workshops come to the realization that she was showing up more interested in her marriage than committed. She had become so comfortable with her marriage and her mate that she stopped doing the little things to show her love and appreciation. She was taking it all for granted.

Sometimes I find myself disappointment in others for not demonstrating the same level of commitment that I have, be it on a particular project or even in a friendship. But then again, it’s not fair of me to project expectations upon someone else without having an actual conversation about those expectations first, right? After all, it has to be a two-way street.

I guess it all comes down to this: Commitment has to be followed by uncompromised action; not periodically, not when the mood strikes you, but continuously. Anything short of that is interest not commitment. Neither is good nor bad, but’s let call it what it is, okay.