Commitment: Beyond motivation and interest.
When you are interested in something you do it only when it’s convenient but when you are committed to something you accept no excuses, only results. ~ Kenneth Blanchard
The internet, particularly social media has many pros and cons. While we are now connected in unprecedented ways, how many such connections are effective? Does this connectivity enhance our productivity? In an era when you can waste all the time reading trolls on Twitter or watching a cat on Instagram, it’s a lot easier to lose focus. The distraction index is high. I dare say that the internet perpetuates one plague: Our ability to be interested in EVERYTHING but committed to NOTHING.
So let’s talk about commitment because it’s an area I believe many like me need to improve on. I once read a post where a martial arts instructor said that out of the thousands of students he was privileged to coach in four decades, the few hundreds that made it to the rank of Black Belt and beyond had one common denominator; Commitment. It had little to do with gender, socioeconomic background, education or indeed, physical ability. Rather, it had everything to do with their level of commitment.
In a way, I liken this to GRIT, which is one of the factors in Prof Stephen Westland’s treatise on getting a PhD. Besides intellectual ability, Westland who has also supervised many students noted that the ones who usually excelled had GRIT.
GRIT is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals. Successful PhD students don’t give up. They may go through bad patches like everyone else but they have the internal resources (and perhaps the external support) to come through and keep going. They are determined and resilient.
You see, it is easy to be interested in something, a topic, project, cause or even a thought. But what about commitment? How committed are you to that idea, goal or milestone you wish to develop or achieve?
I like using myself as an example. My versatility is such that as a student, my lesson tutor once told me that I could pass any subject. And I can. That’s why I read statistics for a year, got into medical school, graduated in accounting and have gone on to acquire postgraduate degrees in media studies and digital humanities. I am interested in a lot of things. Entrepreneurship, football, politics, literature, history, wildlife, fashion, travel, fitness, entertainment, self-development, charity, trucking and a lot more.
Interest: When you are interested in something you want to know more about that thing. Of course, being interested or curious is good. Your knowledge is enhanced by knowing more. However, I have realised that more often than not, many of our interests turn out to be a passing fancy. We soon get bored and abandon the thing. And even when we persist it is usually at our convenience.
Commitment: But commitment is different. When you are committed, you will want to DO EVERYTHING possible to achieve that thing. For instance, I have always been interested in keeping fit and I usually exercised when it was convenient. It wasn’t until 2009 when a 72-year-old member of my church in Cardiff told me that he had been running for over four decades that I committed to regular exercises. Since then going 3 days without running makes me feel sick.
So how do you get committed? The answer is simple; you have to be passionate to be committed. And when you are passionate about something you will be interested beyond ‘interest’. Now how do you discover your passion? What will trigger the kind of joy that keeps one motivated all the time?
I believe it is not your personality. No, that is actually what is perceived by others. It is your identity. It is your identity. It is who you are and not what others see that makes you stay committed. Again I will narrate my own experience. Among my countless interests, I realised long ago that travelling excites me the most. I can say that besides the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I have never stayed in one location for 6 months in my entire adult life. I always enjoyed trips to Amawbia, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Maiduguri and London. So I made sure to let my wife know about my passion for travelling before we wedded because marriage is a lifetime commitment. Thankfully she shares this passion too. And when I relocated to Ireland it was for two major reasons.
- To live together under the same roof as a family so that I can play my role as a husband and father.
- To get my Irish passport and facilitate what has always been a lifelong passion; to visit as many places as possible.
Since then we have inculcated tourism as a habit. Vacations and frequent road trips became a ritual as the family grew. At one point, it was almost impossible to stay a month at home without a short trip. And Ireland will help you with plenty of bank holiday weekends. The process of scanning the internet for bargain tickets, accommodation, and things to do on TripAdvisor et al adds to the excitement of anticipation. It has been fun and will continue to be.
Nevertheless, my adaptability meant that I wasn’t going to be limited to just one passion. So along the line, I had identified writing, charity and of course entrepreneurship. I am building my life around these four and they are all works in progress as they should be since success is a journey. If you ask me I will tell you to take time to reflect and identify your passion. Write down those things that you enjoy doing and cross out those that will impact less on others. Remember that it is easier to get distracted when you are not committed because like Alexander Hamilton said; If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.
So go for it. Passion and dreaming about the outcome of your goals will combine to be your regular motivation. They will spur you to act and achieve results.