Saturday, March 17, 2012

Essence of Commitment

By Julie Rahm

My husband, John has decided to get back in shape. He is in pretty good shape already. However, since he retired from the Marines, he has put on some pounds. But, he carries it well. Anyway, John’s decision to get in better shape has spawned ongoing conversations about commitment. These commitment conversations have been very spirited as John and I hold differing opinions. Of course, John is completely wrong on this point. And, since this is my column, I will elaborate as to why my definition works better than his. And, yes, I know I am not advancing our relationship!

John contends that commitment works on a sliding scale. John says one can be totally committed to a cause or only partially committed. And, John attributes most failures to “not enough” commitment. John argues that commitment is like fuel in a gas tank. If a car runs out of fuel and falls short of the intended destination, it didn’t have enough fuel in the tank. Likewise, if individuals fall short of their goals, they didn’t have enough commitment in their metaphorical gas tank. John argues; they had enough fuel or commitment to start the journey, but not enough to reach the goal. In John’s mind, commitment is linear. It can be measured, from a little to a lot.

Of course, this philosophy of measured commitment is totally wrong. Commitment is not linear or graduated. Commitment is binary. One is either committed or not. It is a simple as that. Failure to achieve a goal is not due to “not enough” commitment. Failure is attributed to not being committed at all. Individuals who are committed make appropriate choices and achieve their goals. Individuals who are not committed make poor choices and fall short. Commitment is like a light switch. The switch is either on and committed, or off and not committed.

As an example, if politicians advertise they are committed to preventing the implementation of ferry tolls and the ferry tolls are implemented, then the politicians were not committed, period, end of discussion. Either the politicians are, or the politicians are not. Despite what they tell us, I predict we will discover our elected officials were not committed when the moratorium expires. Anyway…

As another example, marriages fail because there is no commitment. They do not fail because there is “not enough” commitment. The statement, “She was not committed enough” is incorrect. More exactly stated, “She was not committed”. Individuals are either committed in their relationships or they are not. As a pre-marriage example, one of my girlfriends contends she is committed enough to be engaged but not enough to be married. Frankly, she is not in a committed relationship, period.

I also point to the Oakland Raiders football team and their motto “Commitment to Excellence”. Their motto is not “have a lot” of commitment to excellence! The Raiders are committed, period.

So, join John and me in our spirited debate over the essence of commitment by commenting at

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