Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Commitment's a winner

| October 1, 2023 1:00 AM

After his first night in the barracks, a new Army recruit was rudely awakened by his drill sergeant, who shouted, "Rise and shine. It's four-thirty."

"Four-thirty" the rookie moaned. "Sarge, you'd better go back to bed. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow."

It's time to wake up and realize that if you want to excel at anything in life, you need to be committed. If you want to be only good enough to get by, then a commitment to excellence is not necessary. If you are committed to a cause, you don't need to tell anyone. They can tell from your actions.

I often wonder how people can be happy or at peace with themselves if they don't make a commitment to something, whether it's succeeding at work or improving at a skill. How do you reconcile expecting desired results without making an honest effort to be the best you can be?

Ken Blanchard, author of "The One Minute Manager," said: "There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results."

Commitment is a prerequisite to success. Commitment is the state of being bound — emotionally, intellectually or both — to a course of action. Commitment starts with a choice and is sustained by dedication and perseverance.

Wanting something and actually making a commitment to getting it are two different things. Your goals may be big and worthy, but do you have the passion to see them through? Success starts with a road map and a strategy, but those are just the beginning. You must be prepared to see the action plan through, by making a commitment to get to the finish line.

Lou Holtz, the legendary Notre Dame football coach, told me that he learned the value of commitment when he was hired to coach the New York Jets. Holtz left after one year when he discovered that he lacked a real commitment to the job. Lou strongly believes that all human success is the result of a persistent commitment.

It's hard to keep a truly committed person from success. You can put stumbling blocks in their way, but they will only use them as stepping stones. Committed people have a goal and stick to their plan to achieve the desired result. Your commitment is where your thoughts are.

Investment guru Warren Buffett said: "Are you a fanatic? A manager must care intensely about running a first-class operation. If his golf game is what he thinks about while shaving, the business will show it."

Stew Leonard Sr., who founded the colorful New York grocery store that bears his name, carved his commitment policy on a three-ton granite rock at the entrance of his first store in Norwalk, Conn. It read:

"Rule 1 — The customer is always right.

"Rule 2 — If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule 1."

Leonard, who recently passed away, said this policy is chiseled in stone because it is never going to change. He credits this commitment for the store's growth from a 1,000-square-foot mom-and-pop store into one of the most renowned grocery stores, with annual sales of nearly $300 million and almost 2,000 team members.

Commitment matters in any venture, from business to volunteerism to family life. Commitment makes the necessary hard work easier because you have a goal and a reason to persevere. Commitment will not take away all your fears, but it does turn them into challenges that you are willing to take on. In short, once you set your mind to it, you have made the choice to see it through.

Michelangelo, the famed sculptor and painter, was committed to the point of physical exhaustion when he spent four years lying flat on his back as he painted the fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. His glorious project, which left him virtually blind from the paint that dripped in his eyes, has been admired for more than four centuries.

Here's a final story to illustrate my point. A newspaper reporter secured an exclusive interview with the devil and was especially interested in the evil one's deceptive techniques. The reporter asked, "What is the most useful tool you use on people? Is it dishonesty, lust or jealousy?

"No, no, no," said the devil. "The most useful weapon I possess is apathy."

Mackay's Moral: There is no room for apathy for committed people.

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Harvey Mackay is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive." He can be reached through his website, www.harveymackay.com, by emailing harvey@mackay.com or by writing him at MackayMitchell Envelope Co., 2100 Elm St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414.