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How Commitment Eliminates Excuses in a Business

Lots of people “really want” to do things. Start a company, upgrade talent, buy a beach house, lose 10 pounds, get the kids to bed on time each night, control their anger.

The “really want” stage is an important precursor to commitment. As people reflect on the things that could make their lives better, they run informal cost/benefit analyses. On a good day, benefits appear to outweigh costs, so a “decision” to move forward is made. Typically, however, a bad day follows a good one and costs seem to outweigh benefits. The “decision” is tabled, reversed or forgotten. Justification for this change of mind comes in the form of excuse making. Not enough time, pushback from someone important, something more urgent came up, etc., etc. The list of excuses is endless. And sometimes highly creative!

The fact is that until a commitment is made, excuses rule the day. A commitment is a decision to act with sustained purpose toward a specific goal. Staying with a partner during unsatisfying times reflects commitment. Working toward an advanced degree while being employed full time reflects commitment. Setting personal and professional goals—and sticking with them—reflects commitment.

I’m convinced that the reason most companies struggle with important decisions and priorities is that they get stuck in the “really want” phase. Some companies, for example, really want to upgrade their level of talent, but the process for finding, screening, and hiring strong people does not work. The reasons why vary from ineffective people in charge to broken systems to a dearth of good people in the marketplace. To fix any one of these, someone would have to make a commitment to dedicate the time, attention and resources necessary to resolve the issue. It’s complicated. People disagree. Resources are limited. And there are a lot of other problems vying for time, attention and resources.

Priorities change. Emergencies arise. The world continues to turn. And commitments can seem like extreme responses to fast-moving circumstances. But commitments are essential to progress.

It’s true that emergencies arise. It’s true that the world continues to turn. It’s true that people have different ideas about what is important and what is not. None of these or any other very real challenges preclude commitment. Commitment is a decision to act with sustained purpose toward a specific goal. Making a true commitment takes time, careful consideration, and the courage to accept the fact that trying times are sure to lie ahead. The good news is that true commitment eliminates excuses and generates energy for the work at hand.

Categories: Business