On the Magic of Commitment

In his book, Winning Every Day, Lou Holtz writes: “The greater your commitment to excellence, the higher the standards you’ll be willing to accept.” He tells the story of a history professor who dedicated her entire life to her studies – all that she did and all that she knew. He tells us that you are taking her class. Your goal is to be your graduating class valedictorian. You work ceaselessly throughout the course and are fully engaged in every class with questions – “An A in this class is your goal; anything less would be a crushing disappointment.”

He then says that sitting next to you is the football team’s quarterback whose goal in life is to be an NFL superstar. He hopes to get the bare minimum of a D grade. Holtz asks the question: “Who is the history teacher more likely to get along with?” His response: “It won’t be the quarterback. That teacher will take only minimal interest in the quarterback’s success.”  Holtz’s simple and powerful message to great leaders is: “If you want anyone to empathize or ally themselves with you, you must match or surpass their commitment with one of your own.”

This commitment to a shared purpose is the spark that lights the brilliant fires of passion – a law of attraction that bonds individuals and teams.  As Howard Schultz tells us: “When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.” Find and embrace those people in your professional and personal life. It starts with you… with your choice to “surpass their commitment with one of your own.” Let your commitment be the magical magnet that changes the world and everyone you serve.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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One Response to On the Magic of Commitment

  1. Brian Sumereau says:

    This is an incredible observation of such a common phenomena with which all of us are familiar. The idea of reflection when it comes to passion is clearly present here, where the teacher is not giving her best effort in teaching the quarterback because the quarterback is not giving his best effort. The teacher has no reason to waste her breath on someone who is not passionate about what they are trying to learn; someone whose only concern is the bare minimum. Having that outlook on life, where you are not passionate about everything you do, will get you nowhere, and could actually hurt others around you.

    I remember reading a story that someone published in my church bulletin that described a similar situation. A history teacher was trying to demonstrate why communism does not inherently work in real life, no matter how good it looks on paper. In a desperate attempt to convince his stubborn class, he decided to adopt principles of communism in his policies. He told the class that everyone would take each test individually, but then the grades would be averaged and everyone would receive that average grade in their grade book. Of course, the grades of the class on the first test varied from A+ to D-, so everyone ended up with a B in the grade book. The people who received D’s were thrilled because their grades went up, but the people who got A’s were upset because not everyone in the class shared the same goal and mission as them. As the year went on, the average of each test went down, and down, and down because the people who got D’s slacked off and relied on the “A” people to bring the average up, and the “A” people stopped studying because they were frustrated that the work they were putting in was not being reciprocated by others or reflected in their grade books. Ultimately, everyone failed the class. The point here is that when people in the same setting have different goals or different levels of commitment, everyone is affected. Just like the teacher’s frustration with the quarterback not putting in any effort, leaders get fed up working alongside those that give minimal effort and/or have no enthusiasm or passion for the journey to reach a goal. Shared vision, passion, and commitment are the ingredients to success.

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