“There is 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.” – Kenneth Blanchard
I remember it like it was yesterday. Stepping into the massive Schaumburg Convention Center Hall in Chicago that was chilled to arctic temperatures. To spite the chill, I layered up for what would allegedly be four ‘life-transforming’ days in my life.
After an hour of watching over six thousand attendees scamper around the hall trying to find their seats, Tony Robbins jumps onto the stage, full of bravado, ready to take on the role of a messiah for the crowds standing before him.
Like an aerobic instructor from the 80’s, he prompted us to jump, clap and sing along to his signature song Life by Haddaway until it crescendoed with Tony screaming “Say yes!” As a self-professed HSP, I was overwhelmed by the stimulation. I was expecting a fairly tranquil seminar filled with discussions and lots of note taking – not a rock concert!
It wasn’t long before Tony and his assistants managed to overcome the inhibitions that I, or my fellow mild-mannered attendees felt. I began enjoying the process of letting go because it allowed the uninhibited and authentic part of me to come out. It made me wonder how much more enriching my life experiences could be if I could do this everyday, let go of my self-imposed limitations and live with unbridled passion.
One of the key takeaways that I got from my experience at the Unleash the Power Within event is that passion and commitment are two major cornerstones of leading a successful life. According to Tony, we need to be in what he refers to as a ‘peak state‘ which is both physiological and mental, where everything within us is galvanized to attain excellence in every area of our life such as career, relationships, health and spirituality.
To illustrate what being passionate and committed really feels like, I want you to think of one accomplishment that you are proud of. On a scale of one to ten, how committed and excited were you? Were the efforts that you put into achieving it something you did at your own convenience, or was it something that you felt resolute about and nothing could stand in your way? Chances are that you had a fire in your belly that made you put in whatever work and time was needed. Now, contrast this feeling with an ordinary, boring task. You were probably prone to procrastinating, and you had to drag yourself to do it.
Based on your personal history, you’ll see that it’s an uphill battle to commit to anything or anyone if your heart’s not in it. You can sign fancy contracts and make verbal promises but if you don’t feel genuinely devoted to whatever it is you’re signing up for, you’re setting yourself up for failure. The temptation to give up will inevitably arise when the going gets tough.
A commitment to excellence can be traced in the careers of anyone who is a master of their craft, whether they’re a performer, IT genius, athlete or scientist. The late Steve Jobs, ex-CEO of Apple, said, “people with passion can change the world for the better”. He claimed that it was his passion for his work that led him to innovative tech breakthroughs that changed the world.
A desire and capacity to go above and beyond mediocrity is often what separates average performers and amateurs from extraordinary performers. Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, states, “It is a lifetime accumulation of deliberate practice that again and again ends up explaining excellence.” Ancient philosophy also backs this up. Aristotle said, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
However, we face a new challenge in the modern age. People are finding it increasingly tough to stay committed because of all the distractions, noise and options that are available to us. It’s only through self-reflection and really understanding what makes us who we are that we can find out what empassions us.
Look for an emotional charge that compels you to dedicate yourself to something that gives you purpose and meaning. To confirm if you are genuinely prepared to make a commitment, Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard Business School crafted these questions to ask yourself:
Do you feel strongly about the importance of your goal — why it’s necessary to achieve? Does your idea match your values and beliefs? Is this something you’ve dreamed about for a long time? Is your goal vital to the future of people you care about? Does your goal get you excited when you think about it and share it with others? Is it realistic? Are you sincerely convinced that your goal can be achieved? Are you willing to put your credibility on the line for it? Can you make your goal the primary focus of your activities? Are you willing to devote your personal time — evenings, weekends, vacations — to bringing your goal to reality? Will you be able to reject criticism and negativity? Are you committed to the long term as you work toward your goal?
If most of your responses are “yes”, you are more likely to succeed in your endeavor.
Here are five signposts that indicate whether or not you are passionate and committed enough to stick with something you’ve set your mind on:
1. You’ll make time for it in your schedule no matter what: When you’re dedicated and committed to something, you’ll make time for it no matter how busy you are. If you dream about becoming a pro tennis player, you’ll unfailingly attend tennis practice every single day no matter how tired you get from school or work. If you love your dog, you’ll always feed him on time and take him out for evening walks and schedule enough playtime to make him feel nurtured.
2. You are uncompromising and relentless in your pursuit: A passionate person who has set their mind on achieving their goals is definitely a force to be reckoned with. No matter what obstacles they face, the idea of giving up never crosses their mind. Unlike someone who is half-hearted in their efforts, they will try harder and tirelessly look for solutions, because quitting isn’t an option for them. They’re determined to stick with their course till the very end because they believe with every fiber of their being that they’ll see things through. When you’re internally driven, no one can convince you to deviate from the path that you have chosen to pursue.
3. You don’t mind the inconveniences and challenges it brings: Any pursuit that’s worth its salt will bring its own share of inconveniences and challenges that’ll test your commitment. It’s during those times that you’ll realize just how important your dream is to you. When your actions are imbued with purpose and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you will find the challenges you encounter to be invigorating. For example, if you’re at a job that you don’t like, you’ll find annoyances like bothersome co-workers or a noisy office to be draining. But if you enjoy your job and find it interesting, you’re more willing to overlook these potential irritants because you’re grateful for the opportunity you’ve been given to do what you love for a living.
4. You’re willing to make sacrifices and compromises if needed: A committed person is willing to tolerate short-term pain for long-term gain. They don’t mind giving up instant gratification and making the sacrifices needed to realize their goals. Passion is what will push a runner across the finish line when they’re exhausted. It’s what makes an artist paint and chisel till the early morning hours. It makes a writer willing enough to shut themselves off from the world to finish their novel within their deadline. It’s only passion that will inspire you to maintain a steady discipline and accept the opportunity costs of all the efforts and time you’re expending.
5. You’re committed to growth, learning and improvement: Whether you want to find and create an ideal relationship, build a successful business or master a new skill, you’ll need to be open to learning and expanding your knowledge to further your progress. For example, a person who’s passionate about art and who feels committed to becoming an expert in their field will spend almost every single dollar and minute of their day to immerse themselves in learning about all aspects of art – the history, techniques, styles and genres, visiting exhibitions and galleries and networking with other patrons and artists. In the process, art becomes as natural as the blood that flows through their veins and becomes an integral part of their being.
Passion generates the enthusiasm that’s needed to climb the roughest mountain terrains. Commitment engenders the stamina and psychological prowess to withstand harsh conditions. When combined, both qualities will jet us right to the peak of the mountain – a place frequented by only those who aspire for greatness and a life of service.
All my best on your journey,
Question: Do you believe that passion and commitment are essential to success? How have you seen this play out in our own life?
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