In his book Going Right, Logan Gelbrich says that “curiosity is the seed of commitment.” Curiosity is what drives us to make the first step — for example, sports look like fun so I become curious and throw a football. One curious step leads to another, and somewhere along the way, I develop a commitment to learning how to play the game of football. When I was just curious about football, I wasn’t thinking I would play the game for the next 12 years of my life! Perhaps curiosity brings the opportunity of commitment, which has the potential to become something far more skillful, professional, or masterly.
Framing commitment as an opportunity seems contrary today. Commitments feel heavy, restrictive, and burdensome. We disguise busy-ness as commitment all the time; perhaps, this is because people generally respect the idea of commitment. For example, I can bail on our lunch plans because of “prior commitments,” even if the truth is I want to lay on the couch at home and watch Netflix. One of those responses garners respect; why is that?
Organizations and high performers talk about creating a culture of commitment — holding company kickoffs, quarterly hype meetings, and putting their logo on any surface it’ll stick to. These aren’t inherently bad things, but they’re meaningless in an organization that has an average employee tenure of 16-months with an employee NPS of over 50…
Something is amiss. I hear commitment, but I don’t see it.
I would make the argument that our collective culture has become non-committal. We’re great at planting seeds (curiosity), but we suck at watering them (commitment).
Why are we less committed than before?
Here’s one thought: The professions that require mastery and life-long commitment are no longer valuable. When was the last time you were in the presence of a true craftswoman/man? I’m talking about the mechanic who can just listen to your bucket of rust trying to turn over and diagnose it’s disease; sight unseen. Or the contractors that built houses 200 years ago that are still standing with a dry basement. Or the artist who makes music (you know, with instruments), writes a book, or choreographs a dance that makes the hair on your neck stand up.
When was the last time you interacted with an organization or a person that made you feel that way?
It feels like we’re becoming the Platte River in Nebraska — a mile wide, but only an inch deep. We dance on the surface as modern day renaissance men, too afraid of the discomfort that going “all in” may bring. We like the idea of things more than actually doing them.
Afterall, why pursue mastery when you can be the dilettante doing a bunch of different things, but none very well by real standards?
Action that lacks commitment yields unimpressive outcomes.
Here’s the challenge — get to the guts of one thing. Accept the responsibility of making a choice, and live the lifestyle instead of paying lip service to it.
Live with commitment. Get what you came for.