Commitment

Day of Days

Hot Wheels Track Assembly

During my grade school years I owned a Hot Wheels track for my Matchbox car set.  I bought it at church bizarre sale.  Besides the banked corners and the vertical loop, the critical feature was unit that looked like a car wash.  Once batteries were installed and it was powered up, two rotating brushes spinning on a horizontal axis were aligned to accelerate a Matchbox car sufficiently to make a complete lap of the track before returning for another application of speed.  Depending on the length of the track the return speed of the car effected the acceleration through the speedmachine.  Yesterday I attended an event that re-accelerated my commitment to serving causes that inspire.

Seth in Tribeca

I flew to New York City for the day to attend Seth Godin’sPick Yourself” presentation in the Tribeca.  The magical part was that Seth spoke from some prepared thoughts for an hour, weaving his themes into a series of anecdotes.  Then he answered the audience’s questions for the rest of the day, while surprising us with musical performers after breaks.  The questions for Seth ranged from the marketing strategies to hiring a hiking guide in South America.  As I reflect on my pages of notes and consider how to amplify the experience, I was taken by one theme in particular.


Seth presented the analogy of walking into a forest with an axe.  One person selects a single tee and starts a concentrated effort of chopping it down.  They understand it will not fall after only a couple hacks.  If they are committed and continue making progress eventually they will yell ‘timber.’  However, many of us give up after a couple swings and move onto another tree.  Eventually we find that we have left a scar on many trees but never committed long enough to fall any one of them.  The reality is that nobody knows which the right tree is to be wielding our axe on and that in itself is the adventure.  There is no shortcuts.  Hard work, perspiration, and blisters are the realties of a committed effort.  However, the biggest obstacle for most of us is that we fear our own super power.  The combination of skills that make us unique and accomplished artists.  

Ready?

What tree have you selected to chop down?  Are you willing to put fear aside and commit to the effort?  Are you prepared to experience your own art in the process?

Commit to the Climb

Seth Godin’s blog post, Looking for the right excuse highlights the results psychology plays when a team committs to the plan.  I just had a friend Chris Davenport who scaled Mt. Everest.  His team did it using an unconventional approach.  Instead of repeated acclimatization trips to the higher camps followed by multiple descents and a treacherous journey through the dangerous ice fall above Base Camp, they used a phased system where they reduced the trips to the higher camps to two prolonged periods and then a final trip to the summit.  They were committed to a new approach, moving away from the traditional method.  Their trip resulted in success for themselves and their clients.  What my friend Chris never mentioned was an excuse- he even took time to ski on from Camp III down towards the valley.  His team embraced the new philosophy as if it were an advantage.  With all the challenges associated on an expedition to climb Mt. Everest excuses only consume limited energy and focus from a group’s chances of summiting.

Is your cause committed to fulfilling its purpose?  When your stuck in a tent on the side of the mountain waiting-out a snow and wind storm what stories do you tell yourself?  Is it filled with excuses or commitments?

Perfection?

What would perfection look like for you enterprise?  For some causes this would mean they would cease to exist.  If for example your vision is a cure for cancer then perfection is a cancer free world.  An amazing future but it is uncertain how soon this might be realized.

Consider another question.  How would unwavering commitment to your organization’s purpose manifest itself?  For many causes it would be a fully engaged board and staff, donor who are advocates, volunteers who find opportunities matched to their individual talents, and a community that believes it is better due to the presence of your organization.  Being committed is within your control.  Managing perfection requires variables that are internal and external.  One of these is within your control right now, the other requires execution without setbacks.