The Most Important Commitment You Can Make

By: Nan S. Russell


Commitments. Commitments. Commitments. They fill our days, our heads and our lives. Most of us are in the commitment business. Of course, that's not what we call it. At work, we're making commitments to customers, suppliers, bosses, coworkers and staff. At home, we're making commitments to family, friends, neighbors, community and organizations. Not to mention commitments to pay taxes, credit card bills, mortgages and car loans.

Commitments become our drivers. Like the proverbial hamster wheel, we can't stop the stress, or the time demands we obligate ourselves to, because of commitments. We work so we can meet our professional, personal and financial ones. We work so we can do the others things in our lives we want to do. We work to get the good review, the promotion, the raise or the new job so we can get the house or the car or the next big thing.

As tapestries of commitments seemingly blanket us, we may feel we "have" to do something, when in fact we have a choice, even if it's one with consequences. We may think we can't let someone else down, when in fact we can say no. We may even believe we work for other people, when in fact we work for ourselves.

When we "get" that we work for ourselves, we become the drivers, not the passengers, of our commitments. Only then does our commitment orientation change. We discover it's easier to say no and more gratifying to have choices. You see, with all the commitments we make, most of us miss the most important one there is ... the one we make to self.

However, people who are winning at working make that commitment. Not in a selfish egocentric way, but as the author of their own life. They commit to use their unique gifts and offer the best of who they are to the world. They commit to their dreams. And they commit to becoming who they are capable of becoming. Often their work is a path to do that.

After twenty years in management, I found clear differences in people who made the commitment to self-actualization and people who didn't. Self-committed people are building their skills, working on personal growth, acting like owners and offering their talents without being asked. While others watch from the sidelines, these people are solving problems, resolving conflicts and assisting others. They give. They take action. They make things happen. They're energized, enthusiastic and passionate about work.

You see, when you understand you're working for yourself, that's what happens. Making a self-commitment to become your best you, doesn't reduce your commitments or your work, but it does alters them. When you commit to bringing yourself to your work, in the deepest sense of that concept, something happens. That something fuels your passion and ignites your spirit. If you want to be winning at working, make the most important commitment you can make. That commitment is all about you.

© 2006 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved. Sign up to receive Nan's free biweekly eColumn at www.winningatworking.com. Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in management, most recently with QVC as a Vice President. She has held leadership positions in Human Resource Development, Communication, Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A. from Stanford University and M.A. from the University of Michigan. Currently working on her first book, Winning at Working: 10 Lessons Shared, Nan is a writer, columnist, small business owner, and on-line instructor. Visit www.nanrussell.com or contact Nan at info@nanrussell.com.