“Most people fail not because of lack of desire but because of lack of commitment”
– Vince Lombardi
Now here’s a word that will strike fear into the heart of even a bold man. Our modern world is filled with loopholes and backup plans. Indeed, very few people at all seem to retain the audacity to commit to anything. When most people hear the word commitment, they likely think of romantic relationships, but it’s so much more than that. For many, commitment – or, rather, the lack thereof – may be one of the strongest forces holding you back from your dreams.
Interestingly, one of the first images that comes to my mind when I imagine commitment is a vision of any one of the great “cowboy actors” of the 1950’s and 1960’s. This may not be intuitive at first, but bear with me. One of the things these characters tended to pride themselves on was being “a man of my word”. If John Wayne made a promise, you could be certain he’d make good on it before the credits roll.
You see, the characters in these movie worlds – whether the protagonist or a supporting role – all valued someone that would commit and see the job through. Our fiction often reflects our reality. Not surprisingly, during that same time in history, this sort of personal integrity was highly sought-after in the real world as well. While I’m not particularly well-versed in cinema, I struggle to come up with a stand-out example from the movies I’ve seen in recent times. Just as interestingly, my example from days-gone was a single actor instead of a single character. John Wayne notoriously played a specific type of hero, but I’m at a loss for a modern parallel.
The value in this has nothing to do with Hollywood, however. Movies merely make a convenient point of comparison. What I am driving at is the point I made earlier: every option we might choose in the modern world always comes with a way out just in case. To the point, I can’t think of a retailer today that doesn’t offer a return policy; employers always hire with a temporary, “probationary” period; many modern marriages begin with the drafting of a prenuptial agreement; and far too many people spend their lives hopping from one pursuit to the other each time things get tough.
Opportunity and possibility are beautiful things, and freedom of choice is at the cornerstone of a capitalistic and democratic nation. I believe this is important. With that said, we as individuals may benefit from imposing restrictions upon ourselves. As an example:
Let’s say you’ve narrowed down your life’s pursuit to three possibilities. Now, every day you spend six hours a day in total working towards the fruition of your as-yet-undefined passion. As a result of your present uncertainty, your efforts are split three ways, and the six-hour investment you’re making becomes only two hours in each direction. Imagine the same situation where your life is a car and each pursuit is a different direction. If you want your life to head north, but you spend two hours driving north, two hours driving southeast, and two hours driving west… Well, I think you see my point.
Thank you for your time.