What Commitment Are You Willing To Make?

August 11, 2009

This question recognizes that if change is to occur, it will come from my own free choice, not from the investment of the institution or the transformation of others.  Every project of consequence or personal calling will require more from us than we originally imagined….For anything that matters, the timing is never quite right, the resources are always a little short, and the people who affect the outcome are always ambivalent. These conditions are proof that if we say yes, it was our own doing and it was important to us.  What a gift. (p.29, Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes).

Commitment is a powerful driver of performance, not just at the individual level, but in the aggregate as well.  A company full of committed people will almost always outperform a company full of uncommitted people; consequently, I consider it a fundamental managerial responsibility to make informed decisions designed to facilitate employee commitment.  We can do a lot to influence our employees to be more committed, and because we can, we should.

I personally believe the type of commitment Block talks about is contagious.  Your circle of influence is larger than you think.  People are watching what you do and what you say, especially if what you are saying and doing deviates from the status quo.

Just don’t expect everyone to stand up and applaud your commitment.  Conformity is also at work, and it may be even more powerful than commitment.  And don’t expect to radically transform your company or community with your commitment.  That is almost always an unrealistic expectation.  Instead, be prepared to never directly experience the full affects of your influence.

Real commitment is a process of continual personal transformation.  It is a responsibility that is never contingent up either its rewards or its sacrifices.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Hi Bret,

    I love your quote from one of my favorite books and authors. Peter Block is a very committed non-conformist. Because of his non-conformity, he always makes me think.

    I have been graced with the honor of working over the course of several years, with an extremely committed group of leaders – in a local government organization, no less (nobody expects a government organization be engaged or committed!).

    Since I know the senior person there, I have no doubt that commitment is modelled by him in word as well as in deed.

    An interesting thing about him is that he rarely recognizes his own influence on the organization – and ultimately, the community. Your thoughtful post may have provided me with a clue about why this is; he has never directly experienced the full effects of his influence. And, like all of us, never will. (P.S. maybe the reason for this is to keep the good leaders humble!).

  2. Mary Jo: Love your example of the leader you work with in the community. I love meeting people like that, but do find them rarely myself. What an honor to actually work with someone like that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Bret