There are a lot of shortcuts to greatness and it’s always tempting to take them in order to get there faster. In this episode, Thane Ringler talks about the power of commitment and why it’s such a rare topic of discussion. He shares how greatness shouldn’t be aimed by using shortcuts but by taking the baby steps necessary. He insists that just because something is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy. Oftentimes, the simplest things can be the hardest to achieve. Taking one measured baby step toward your goal each day can bring about extraordinary things in the future.
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I am doing a brief solo episode and the topic is commitment. I believe the power of commitment cannot be overstated. It’s one of the greatest determinants of success and of living a fulfilled life. When we have the courage to make a powerful commitment and the tenacity to follow through with it, we often surprise ourselves when we look back on how far we’ve come in practicing the simple discipline over a long enough period of time. What is commitment? That’s an important question to answer if this is what this topic and this episode is all about. I love the definition David Brooks gave. He said, “A commitment is falling in love with something and building a structure of behavior around it for those moments when love falters.” He makes a good point. There will be times when our love for that commitment falters and if we have a structure of behavior built around it, we’re able to weather those inevitable storms.
One of the ways that I try to define it is by saying, “It’s determining a goal, dream, desire, character trait, or an attribute that you want to pursue or instill, which causes you to make the decision to take action on it.” A lot of commitment has to do with taking action. This has been a major theme. I contemplated often during my professional golf journey and I’ve dedicated a lot of time to further unpacking it in the years since. In one of my speaking engagements, a lady came up afterward and asked me a question that reminded me of the simplicity found in this concept of commitment. She asked how was I able to do all the things I’m doing now. How was I able to reach the place I’m at? As you all know, as well as I do, it isn’t some lofty, elevated, separate place. It isn’t something glamorous or an incredible feat. It’s simply human like the rest of us.
When I paused and thought about it for a second, the simplest and truest answer that I could give her was the power of commitment. What the power of commitment looks like on a practical daily level is simple. It’s baby steps. Baby steps are the single greatest life hack there is. The power in baby steps is not in the great gain found in a small step itself but in the beautiful mundanity of that small step taken every single day. The tenacity required to take that baby step for hundreds and hundreds upon thousands of days in a row. That is what makes up the path to any and every accomplishment worth pursuing.
There are no shortcuts to greatness. There are merely baby steps to take. The question that naturally follows is why is this rare? Why is commitment rare? Why does this not get talked about more? Why do we all tend to get lost in the clouds and follow the wind of the get rich quick schemes that fill up every ideal we pursue? The shortcuts that are praised, advertised and marketed to us in every path are tempting. It’s rare because it’s too simple to be attractive. It’s too boring to be newsworthy. It’s too small to make any substantial difference. It’s rare because it’s unsexy and that’s the lie that attacks the power of commitment.
It’s the lie that causes us to chase after those shiny objects, the things that promise a faster journey and a quicker arrival wherever we’re trying to go. The funny thing about shortcuts is they never produce a sustainable advantage and they never produce lasting success. A good example of this is steroids for muscle building. You may take steroids for a time to build massive amounts of muscle at a faster rate, but the reality is, you’re building it at a faster rate than your body can handle. The tendons, joints, and ligaments will be worn down by being overextended without also gaining the strength it needs to support that. That leads to a lot more injury and trouble down the road.
Another example is the startup world’s exaggerated emphasis on the extreme scalability model. Everything in the startup world is geared towards scaling as quickly and efficiently as possible to take a monopoly over any industry and take advantage of their new product or idea. This often leads to incredible amounts of financial losses as well as burnout and incredible amounts of stress for the people running it. Usually, these companies don’t last much longer than 5 or 10 years if they even make it that far. We see this in daily life. We see these sprints that are not sustainable, which shows the importance of commitment.
The next question beyond that is why is this important? Why is commitment important? It’s important because this is life. One of the most famous clichés of all time speaks to this reality extremely well. You can say it with me now, “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.” We’ve all heard that. We all know that phrase and that cliché. It’s true. It’s not about some massive burst of energy and a massive distance leap, it’s about daily progress in the direction of your vision and the direction of the goals you set before you accomplish.Commitment is rare because it's too simple to be attractive, too boring to be newsworthy, and too small to make any substantial difference. Click To Tweet
This is important because this is the reality we all face. There’s not a human on this planet who hasn’t had to go through the process of taking baby steps daily for a prolonged period of time in order for it to add up to an amount or to a great distance covered and amazing feats of accomplishment. The other reason why it’s important is it never happened by chance. It always happens through intention. Life is full of things that try to get us to divert from our intended path or course of action. As James Clear said, “If you commit to nothing, you’re distracted by everything.”
Commitment is key to saying no to the inevitable distractions of daily life. It is non-negotiable. Once we realize commitment is power, we must understand how we can develop commitment and leave a legacy of commitment behind for the generations to follow. The power of legacy cannot be overstated. There is a lasting power that is present from a life well-lived. This will be a shocker but we developed commitment by taking baby steps every single day. It’s shocking. Seriously, it’s that simple.
As we know, far too well by now, simple never means easy. In fact, it’s usually the simple truths that are the hardest to carry out and follow through with on a daily level. My favorite part about this concept and this idea of commitment is it’s not discriminatory. I say that because every single person is capable of taking one step. That baby step will obviously look different. It will look like different things for virtually every person, but the point remains that each person has the ability to take one step each and every day. The final question that remains is how can I, you reading, take one step now?
Tomorrow, the same question remains. If we get good at asking ourselves that question, answering that question, and holding that intention in front of us as we live our daily lives, it’s going to be amazing to see what we can accomplish years down the road. That is the power of commitment. I want to end with a quote from Bill Gates who said it poignantly. He said, “Everybody overestimates what they can accomplish in one year and underestimates what they can accomplish in ten years.” Let’s follow suit and have a ten-year mindset that sees the impact we can have of ten years of baby steps adding up to amazing feats of accomplishments.
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