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Last Updated on August 27, 2019

How to Commit, Achieve Excellence And Change Your Life

How to Commit, Achieve Excellence And Change Your Life

Achieving even the simplest of goals requires us to learn the meaning of commitment. Throughout our life, we are reminded of commitment, whether it’s related to personal or business goals, and we realize that without committing, we can’t achieve anything.

When you think about it, everything you ever achieved sprouted from a commitment you made; whether it’s your children, your degree, your job, or even your house. Learning how to commit is not simply about making commitments, however, it’s about keeping those commitments in the face of foreseen and unforeseen hurdles.

Here are 4 tips that will help you get “commit” right and change your life.

1. Don’t Be Involved, Commit!

Doing things halfway is the mother of everything that can go wrong.

“The difference between ‘involvement’ and ‘commitment’ is like an eggs-and-ham breakfast: the chicken was ‘involved’ – the pig was ‘committed’.”

When you want your project to succeed, you invest yourself in it fully. Why? Because you can’t afford to only be involved; being involved means you’re not committed enough, and if you’re not committed enough, that thing you’ve been working on, won’t see the light of day. Don’t chicken out.

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You can’t work on several things at the same time and expect excellent results. Make sure you’re doing one thing, and you’re investing all you’ve got.

2. If You Won’t Learn How to Commit, Someone Else Will

There’s someone out there who knows everything you know and they’re probably not alone.

“Competing in sports has taught me that if I’m not willing to give 120 percent, somebody else will. “ — Ronald Mark Blomberg (Boomer)

We live in a highly-competitive environment and truth be told, it’s exhausting. So what are you going to do? Are you going to quit? Probably not, but why?

You’re wired to keep on fighting—every time you think you’ve reached rock bottom, you connect to an inner mechanism based on millions of years of evolution whose sole purpose is keeping us alive. It can be either by running and hiding so you’ll be able to fight another day, or by making you fight tooth and nail to get what you need.

You probably heard about this fight-or-flight instinct. In fight-or-flight mode, your pupils dilate, your heart rate goes up, and blood pressure increases with the purpose of getting more oxygen into your brain and muscles. This response allows you to give much more in a competitive environment… but guess what? the same happens inside the other guy’s body. That’s why the one who’s more committed will be the last one standing.

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3. Never Give Up, Never Give In

Quitting is also a lesson; a really expensive lesson, if you ask me. You pay for that lesson with the time you lost, the energies you invested, and a major blow to your ego. However, sometimes you find yourself with your back to the wall and you need to take drastic measures to save the day.

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese author of The Art of War called it “desperate ground”:

“Throw your soldiers into positions fro whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight.  If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.” — Sun Tzu

Do you know why people quit? There are 3 major reasons:

  • Perfectionism
  • Lack of faith
  • General inability to keep commitments due to a history of failures

All three are bound to each other. The more you fail, the less committed you become. If you’re less committed, you have less faith. If you don’t have faith in what you’re doing, every non-perfect condition can break your resolution. It’s that simple.

Fight perfectionism, fight lack of faith (whether in you or in others) and fight history to stop it from repeating itself.

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Here’s a great reminder why you shouldn’t give up and how to do so: Giving up Is Not an Option! How to Not Give up and Stay Motivated

4. Free Your Mind, and the Rest Will Follow

Once you’re committed to something, your mind becomes like a homing beacon. There are no more choices to be made, just a focus on the target in front of your eyes—smooth sailing.

“The resolved mind hath no cares. “ — George Herbert

But what happens when you suddenly change your mind? What if the choice you’ve made is no longer as attractive as you previously imagined it would be?

You know of course what I’m talking about; that thought that you could’ve made a different choice, or as Neo said in the first Matrix “Why didn’t I take the blue pill?”

That’s why when you make a choice, weigh it heavily, commit, and never look back.

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5. Commit to Something Bigger Than Yourself

If you have problems committing, it will be beneficial to commit in a group setting. The most likely way to overcome the fear of commitment is to commit to something bigger than just you, and in a group, you’ll be to draw upon others for both motivation and support.

“Individual commitment to a group effort—that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. “ — Vince Lombardi

In a committed group, everyone works for the benefit of that group. A perfect example is trying to teach a child to swim on his own versus with a group of kids his own age.

Bottom Line

Commitment allows us to fulfill our most basic needs and achieve our most sought after dreams. It gives us purpose.

Start small and remember the 4 things I suggested above. It’s never too late to learn how to commit.

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Featured photo credit: Andrea Leopardi via unsplash.com

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Haim Pekel

Haim Pekel is an entrepreneur and shares tips on productivity and entrepreneurship at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

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You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

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As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

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Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

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Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

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