This weekend I attended the wedding of one of one of my son’s best friends. It was a simple ceremony but there were a lot of emotions on display; as is the case with any wedding. And like all weddings there was a recitation of vows followed by the exchange of rings – the tangible reminders of those vows.
Outside of the marriage pact, you don’t see this kind of public commitment being made very often. Public servants (politicians, police officers, etc.) make a public vow to their new roles as they are sworn in; but the majority of us accept a job or promotion without much fanfare. In rare cases there may be an employment contract involved, but even those are typically confidential agreements. Most people simply accept a job after negotiating what they expect to receive rather than what they promise to give.
Nothing great is ever achieved without commitment. Until you commit yourself to a cause, participation is optional. Whether it’s a short-term goal, such as climbing a mountain, or a long term like marriage; it’s commitment that makes all the difference. Once you’ve committed yourself to the end game, then the path forward becomes clear. Decisions become easier to make. Every choice is determined by how it will impact the goal you have committed to.
Athletes committed to being number one are easy to spot. They follow the necessary training regimen, whether they feel like it or not. They avoid eating foods and engaging in activities that are extremely desirable because they would get in the way of achieving the goal. They fill their minds with information and imagery that propels them closer to achieving that which they are committed to.
Look around. Sales people, actors, chefs, musicians, service providers, medical professionals – the best of the best are those who have made a commitment to excellence. They are the ones who have identified what success looks like and refuse to settle for anything less. They are unwavering in their commitment, so they put in the effort. They go through the training, they put in the hours, they practice their craft to the point that they cannot fail.
The rest of us are merely bystanders. We’re Sunday drivers on a NASCAR speedway. We’re casual joggers on the Olympic sprint track, ready to bow out as soon as the going gets tough.
It’s so easy to bail on our commitments. It’s so easy to justify why we stop giving our all to the things we once felt were so important. The marriage hits a rough spot. The training gets tough. The job isn’t quite what we thought it would be. Maybe we made a mistake. Perhaps we should just coast for a bit.
Commitments are hard to keep. Vows are easy to break. Even those made in public often don’t stand the test of time. I guess that’s why there are so few people who ever reach the mountain top. Only one can stand at the top of the medal podium. So few know the joy of true success.
I’m convinced my life would be better if only I were more committed to certain aspects of it. Sadly, the list is far too short. Maybe I should fix that.