If you think of commitment as an obligation, I invite you to think of it as a steadying force. As Anne Morriss, managing director of the Concire Leadership Institute, says, "The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating -- in work, in play, in love." Why would she think it's liberating? My sense is that we have a "knowing," as psychologist Wayne Dyer says. We know we can count on that commitment.
I remember an exercise from a seminar several years ago. We were divided into teams and we had to come through for one another. Our assignment was explained in terms of the way Navy SEALs work. (This is certainly timely with the heroic work of the SEALs in the news right now.)
I remember the facilitator saying, "If you're not back here at the appointed time, your group will take you for dead; and they will leave." Yikes! With my challenges in the arena of time management, that spoke volumes to me. I didn't want to be left for dead. And that example of the Navy SEALs has always stuck with me.
From business to sports -- and from relationships to the arts -- my research turned up a number of angles about commitment. Leadership expert and author Peter Drucker said, "Unless a commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans."
"Individual commitment to a group effort -- that's what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work," legendary football coach Vince Lombardi explained.
Speaking of football, I just watched the classic movie "Rudy" again. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and rent it. Talk about commitment!
Psychologist Robert Sternberg offers this contrast between passion and commitment: "Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still."
Getting back to my original question, renowned NBA player and coach Pat Riley sums it up nicely: "There are only two options regarding commitment. You're either in or out. There's no such thing as a life in-between." If you're one of those people who tend to "sit on the fence," you may want to pay attention to this. Clarity is a wonderful thing.
And actor/playwright Harvey Fierstein poses an even more challenging, yet very basic question: "If you deny yourself commitment, what can you do with your life?"
Linda Arnold, MBA, is a certified wellness instructor and chairwoman/CEO of The Arnold Agency, a marketing communications firm specializing in advertising, public relations, government relations and interactive marketing. Reader comments are welcome and may be directed to Linda Arnold, The Arnold Agency, 117 Summers St., Charleston, WV 25301, or emailed to livelifefu...@arnoldagency.com.