“Leaders must pick causes that they will not abandon easily, remain committed despite setbacks, and communicate their big ideas over and over again in every encounter.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter
A very famous story related to the subject matter of commitment is that of the tennis star of the 80s’ and 90s’ Martina Navratilova. During an interview the multiple Wimbledon title holder was asked what she would accredit her great success as a tennis player to. Her answer was that her total commitment to tennis gave her the edge over most other competitors.
Not entirely clear on what Navratilova actually meant by her total commitment to tennis the interviewer asked her again to explain her narrative of commitment and to draw a distinction between the concepts of involvement and commitment.
She used having bacon and eggs for breakfast as a metaphor to describe her extreme level of commitment to tennis:
“When you have bacon and eggs, chickens were involved in producing eggs, but pigs were committed to the bacon”, she exclaimed.
Martina taught us by using this metaphor that there is a great margin of difference between being merely involved in a profession and being totally committed to it. Although this might be regarded as an extreme example, within the context of this writing it serves as a lesson to show that there are stages or levels, if you prefer, of commitment.
Levels of commitment to a cause (as a practical example, towards the purpose of a business):
No leader can call him or herself a leader when they display apathy, meaning that they do not care at all about the business’ ultimate desired future state.
This as an example might be able to intellectually understand the business’ purpose and be able to articulate it, but merely takes notice of it, doesn’t do anything about it, or really gets involved with making this vision a reality.
Often this low level of commitment is displayed within meetings where employees, partners or any stakeholders might nod their head in agreement to a statement that you have made as a leader but afterwards do not do anything about what you have said as they were merely taking notice of your words.
At this level there is proof of involvement in activities related to making the business’ desired future state a reality. This is only involvement and does not mean that the stakeholders’ heart mind and soul is totally behind the business’ vision and a persons’ limited effort is proof of that. The team members whose level of commitment is only at the level of involvement will likely waiver even when a minor setback is faced.
Total commitment to your business’ purpose means putting all your skill and maximum effort on the “altar of your purpose.” When you are totally committed your sincere effort will surpass most of your competitor’s levels of hard work or even all of them. This means to not be a “clock watcher”, it is the opposite of putting in the minimum effort required to get the minimum required amount of work done. It means to strain your potential to its absolute maximum in order to realise that there was always more within you than you could ever fathom. Despite even severe setbacks the truly committed leader or team will “stay the course”.
Commitment to your business vision and goals is therefore taking ownership of the vision and to fully identify with it. It means to filter your decision making as a leader through the vision that you hold up in front of you as a desired future state and to constantly not only enthusiastically communicate this vision to all stakeholders but also being a living example of commitment to daily actions to make this desired future state a reality.
As entrepreneurs and business owners we all seek positive growth and results without question. The question that might make a severe difference within your business is therefore not whether you seek growth or not as that has been implicitly answered from the start-up phase of your business.
The burning question however is: Are you committed enough to actualise your entrepreneurial vision despite several setbacks?