The Value of Commitment and Committed People
A chicken and a pig were walking down the road together. They passed a sign for a local diner advertising its breakfast special: “Ham and Eggs – $2.95!” The chicken said, “That’s our whole contribution to society: breakfast food!” The pig replied, “For you, it may be a contribution. For me, it’s a total commitment.”
This proverbial story may sound funny but it illustrates for our understanding what commitment means. Let’s indulge a little bit on this and consider the illustration.
The few lines of this story highlight the difference between commitment and contribution. The chicken brags about their contribution to society as it proudly reads a sign that advertises their good deed. The pig remains sober and serious as it ponders on its own contribution. Indeed, they have made breakfast great for humanity but for the pig, the ham represents a loss of one of its kind — and someday, his turn would come. While chickens and pigs contribute to satisfy man’s hunger, the pigs do it more honorably because they commit their lives.
This simple illustration, gives us a profound picture of commitment as a giving of self even when one’s reputation, integrity, heart and even life are on the line. In real life, pigs don’t really have a choice as long as man remains carnivorous. He has to live up to that calling of committing his life. Unless, of, course, someone takes him for a pet — which is really out of the usual.
Making a commitment entails sacrifice. It is binding one’s self to a course of action, a promise, a pledge, or a firm agreement. To make a commitment, therefore, involves seriousness of disposition, sincerity of decision and steadfastness towards its completion. Breaking it can easily damage integrity or reputation. No wonder, commitment, like honesty, is a lonely word (as a song goes).
Life in our so-called modern era has conditioned us to desire a life of ease, of quick gratifications and of less discomfort. There’s really nothing wrong with desiring an easier life, but what is troubling is that many of this generation now expect to receive abundant rewards with minimal effort. It’s so easy for them to give up on something that requires extra effort, sacrifice of time, and sharing of wealth. Worst, there are those who believe that legitimate goals may be sought through illegitimate means provided that those means offer a short-cut to the goal in mind.
Marriage is the best example of what commitment is. In today’s modern society, people prefer to live together like married couples but without the formality of marriage because of the commitment it requires. Actually, long term commitments have waned in popularity because of the sacrifice it entails. It doesn’t surprise anyone anymore if newly-married couples end up not celebrating their 1st anniversary. On the contrary, if a marriage would last long many would wonder why.
As the basic unit of society, marriages’ longevity reflects how its constituents value commitment. Marriage is a commitment and it dictates how far one is willing to go. If people can’t commit even in their most basic relationships, you cannot expect them to be fully committed to other values beneficial to the preservation of human societies.
“We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.” — Cornel West, Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life
Commitment is one of the values that underpin strong and mutually beneficial relationships. People who can maintain strong relationships rank high in their emotional intelligence and they are the most likely to fulfill their commitments or stay committed. This is so because it takes emotional competence to sacrifice time, to exercise considerable will, and to exert substantial effort. People who value commitments are highly skilled in managing relationships, especially in the area of interpersonal effectiveness, conflict management, building bonds, building trust, teamwork and collaboration.
Commitment is also a personal thing. It is a strong indicator of a self-discipline, resilience and persistence. It is a value that differentiates the stout- hearted from the weak. People who are committed, do their very best even outside their comfort zones. They hurdle difficulties to fulfill their commitments not only to others but also to themselves. Because they are focused, their choices in life are clearer and they know their way towards their goals. People who are not committed lack focus and usually end up with many hazy choices. They struggle in sacrificially working towards their dreams and in holding on to it. They lack competence in self-management, especially in the areas of: integrity, achievement drive, realistic optimism, resilience and integrity.
“Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason, mastery demands all of a person. — Albert Einstein
What can enhance the value of commitment and inspire people to get committed? In a passage from the Bible, we find the Apostle Paul inspiring his young disciple, Timothy, to stay committed to his calling and to anticipate his reward:
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” (2Timothy 2:4-7)
For Paul, commitments are inspired externally: for the soldier, it is his commanding officer; for the athlete, it is the price; for the farmer, it is the harvest.
Dedicated soldiers commit themselves to pleasing their commanding officer. They consider their commitment as pleasurable rather than a burden. They endure hardships because they find fulfilment in gaining their superiors’ favor and approval.
Disciplined athletes commit to the rigors of training to win the prize. Their eyes are focused on their objective to win. They know well the road they are taking has obstacles and challenges to hurdle but they are bent on overcoming them as they set their eyes on the finish line. Their focus and self-discipline keep them from being distracted by temptations along the way.
Diligent farmers commit to preparing the soil well for seeds to germinate. They patiently wait for them to grow. When the first buds break the soil, they take extra care of them as they look forward to a rich harvest. Just like committed people, diligent farmers get to be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. According to the Apostle Paul, “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.” In other words, the one who commits is the first beneficiary of his commitment.
Because commitments shape and define a person, we become what we are committed to. Many of those who are afraid to commit to anything just drift through life. They reap no harvest and they find themselves unfulfilled and insignificant. But those who make commitments and honor them will gain favor and a good reputation, accomplish their goals, and reap a harvest of rich rewards.
And there are those who have committed themselves to the wrong things. To avoid these, we need to wise up in making sure that the object of our commitment is honorable, pleasurable, prize-worthy, and personally profitable.
Has your life been challenging, lately? Do you feel like it has something to do with your commitments? You may need to get to know yourself more. Our team of experts can be of help. Contact us today.