Commitment. There’s a powerful word. A powerful idea. Oftentimes, a scary one. It denotes something final. A thing from which we cannot retreat. A true line in the sand over which, once crossed, there is no going back. Talk about pressure.
We think of this as one of the Big Words. You don’t mess around with this one. It is not to be bandied about lightly. This is a serious word. A word that can change our lives. A word that changes everything. A word that can give us “cold feet.”
So, what usually holds us back from commitment? Fear, of course. What if it doesn’t work out? What if people don’t like it? What if I (gulp) fail? But the only way to find out the answers to these questions is to make a decision and move forward. Without the commitment, we hold ourselves back. We keep something in reserve. We do not really jump in and give it all we’ve got.
It’s so much easier to make excuses. To play the victim. To cite outside circumstances. To talk about the timing not being right. And in each case we relinquish our own power to the great unknown. Instead of putting our best foot forward, we shoot ourselves in the foot and then point down and say, “See! I told you!”
It is a self protective act, but one that can only lead to stagnation, and ultimately, to disappointment and low self-esteem. Allowing our fear of the unknown to decide our future is a guaranteed way to limit not only the unpleasant results we fear, but also great achievements and personal fulfillment. How many potentially amazing lives have been stifled by this fear of commitment?
So often we skirt actual commitment by saying we will try. We’ll “try hard.” We’ll “try our best.” But the word “try” always comes with an implied caveat. An implicit out. An unspoken, “If it doesn’t work, it’s not my fault.” In trying rather than committing, we are already pulling back. I think we can all relate to Luke Skywalker here. Can you levitate an X-Wing Fighter out of a bog by “trying?” No. As Yoda said, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Ironically, all the stress and worry of wavering and dithering we put ourselves through in the face of commitment tends to magically disappear once the decision has been made. Suddenly, we are empowered, free, eager to get down to business, to conquer the goal with gusto! And then we wonder, “What was I waiting for?”
With the act of true commitment something shifts inside us. You can almost hear the “click” of another, higher gear falling into place. The starting gate swings open and all the doubts that have been hemming us in are swept aside - not necessarily gone, but rendered much less powerful. The act of making a decision and going with it creates its own momentum. Suddenly the hurdles we deemed insurmountable seem smaller, and the finish line within reach.
It’s true that to commit means to hold ourselves accountable. It means taking on the responsibility (another Big Word) - and potentially the blame, if something goes wrong. That makes many people squirm. But the correct mind-set can get us past this fear of fear. After all, what if something wonderful happens? What if everyone loves it? What if we (gasp) succeed? If we focus on the potential positive outcomes we want rather than the possible negative outcomes we fear, excitement arises and a powerful energy is created. When this energy is followed by a true commitment, a compelling creative force is unleashed. Ultimately our potential for success is not bestowed from without, but rather, born from within. Just as Henry Ford famously and succinctly said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right. ” I’m sure Yoda would agree. • G.M.S.