Chapter 6.4 Commitment


“It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.”
Ralph Ellison (1914 – 1994)      US author

We have accepted that we have a life mission in this world (why else would we be here?) We have accepted who we are, and have realized our individual strengths and abilities.  These basic fundamentals have given us great confidence in our abilities. Now we have to make the next step and commit to action so that we can achieve our goals.

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.”
Peter F. Drucker    American Educator and Writer

Commitment is all about action, doing something. We can muse and ponder, design and plan, sketch and draft, but nothing will occur until we commit to do something. To fully be able to commit, you have to agree with the concept, the plan, the purpose. The quality will not be there if you work on something half-assed. Always work on your projects with a sense of urgency, and a sense of ultimate achievement.

“Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”
Mario Andretti   Italian born American Race driver

Finally stepping off the Maybe fence and committing yourself to your goal, generates a big charge of energy. Indecision is circular and draining, but when you finally decide to do something, you get instant acceleration. Something to always remember. Going after something is a positive charge. Nothing gets done with out doing it. And committing to something to completion will require some definite Discipline.

“It was character that got us out of be, commitment that moved
us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”
Zig Ziglar             Motivational speaker

Discipline?  ……………  No! No! Anything but that!

Discipline, unfortunately, is a necessary attribute in our journey to the Plateau of Positive+. Discipline is not about denial of fun.  Discipline is about sticking to your path, focusing on your life-goals.  Success comes from achievement, from accomplishment.  Most of us do not push ourselves far enough to broaden our life-purpose.

Discipline can mean to follow the rules of a particular group or society.  We try to discipline the actions of children, the reactions of military recruits, and even dress-codes of workers, all to conform the behavior of people to fit into a particular set of “acceptable” patterns.

I’m more interested in personal discipline, the one where we have to motivate ourselves to a goal, commit to it, and then stay with it until we accomplish our task … or are at least, we are satisfied with our try. We must accept responsibility that our life is what we make it.  No victims, no complainers, no excuses.

“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.”
Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980)     French Philosopher

A lack of a solid, defined commitment makes it more difficult to maintain one’s discipline.  For example, if you want to discipline yourself to exercise more often, what does that mean?  First, you have to establish a more defined commitment, such as Monday, Wednesday, Friday … after work … around the track, in the gym, in the living room.  The more specific you make the commitment, the more precise will be the discipline.

Many years ago, I read many of the books in the Castaneda series.  These books are my first recollection of the term “being a warrior.”  Carlos was a guy trying to understand the things around him from a spiritual (usually a hallucinatory) perspective.  His travel agent was a Mexican-Indian self-professed shaman by the name of Don Juan, who did indeed mentor his wisdom to his student.

“A warrior takes responsibility for his acts, for the most trivial of acts. An average man acts out his thoughts, and never takes responsibility for what he does.”
Carlos Castaneda (1925-1998)     Peruvian born American Writer

One of the key goals of the story-teller was to develop a warrior mentality, not from a militaristic point of view, but from a personal sense of being … to become ‘impeccable’ in his warrior persona and in his daily life.

“A rule of thumb for a warrior is that he makes his decisions so carefully that nothing that may happen as a result of them can surprise him, much less drain his power.”
Carlos Castaneda (1925-1998)    Peruvian born American Writer

Drain his power! …. Way back then?

Negativity’s major weapon against Discipline is procrastination.  Procrastination is like a computer virus … it continues to cycle through a person, using energy, going nowhere.

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”
Edward Young, (1683-1765)     English Literary Critic, Poet, Dramatist

Procrastination is said to be most prevalent with perfectionists (and you thought it had something to do with laziness.)  It seems that a perfectionist can’t get started because their project may not turn out to be … GREAT!  They don’t have the trust that their product will be good, so they have trouble in getting things going, and ultimately in getting things done.  It has become apparent to me that the more time you have, the more time a project will take.

“Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead.  It is a loop—an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details…and lose sight of the whole.”
The Artist’s Way     Julia Cameron

That is, until the deadline looms and the task must be completed.  Then, amazingly, the procrastinator kicks into action.  It no longer matters how good the project will be, because something has to be finished.  It’s a wonderful excuse ….  “I had to stay up all night or work the whole week-end, to finish the project.  That explains why this may not be my best work.  I really could have done better if I had more time.  I’m just so busy.” … Yeah!! … Procrastinating!

“One thing that’s good about procrastination is that you always have something planned for tomorrow.”
G. B. Stern (1890-1973)       British novelist

But really, with colleagues leaving rambling voicemails and forwarding e-mails with huge attachments, along with our time-consuming attempts to stay current with new technological gadgetry (cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone, and other “time-saving” devices) which makes us available and accessible 24/7 … all of which has stretched the workweek to sixty hours … when can anyone really do the fun stuff??

“I am struck by our superb capacity to manufacture consumer gadgetry … versus our capacity to produce schools. ”
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)    American Economist (quote actually made in 1983!)

Besides having discipline, accomplishment also requires a bit of perseverance, the little engine that could. Perseverance is one of the key stepping stones on the slope of the Plateau of Positive+.  Nothing happens easily it seems.  Those that really want something, something that defines their path …. well, they keep trying.  They don’t give up and sit on a rock. They keep following their purpose.

“Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.”
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)      British Prime Minister

To maintain that good balance however, we can’t let Discipline rule our lives. We need some spontaneity, and we need some down time. We need some joy and alas we need a healthy dose of mundane.  We do have choices though, on what we have to do.  We tend to fill our lives with more stuff than we need to subsist contentedly.  If we want more time to do what we like, we have to choose to let some things go.  Time has a ceiling on how much we can do on this earth.

So Commitment and Discipline aren’t only just about making lists and crossing things off.  Discipline is also about staying true to yourself and what is important to you. Prioritize your time.  The quicker you can accomplish the necessary mundane, the more guilt-free time you will have to do what you enjoy.  Your psyche likes to look forward to a reward.

“Throw your heart over the fence and the rest will follow.”
Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993)     American Author


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