The word "commitment" seems to get a lot of attention not only in the workplace but in everyday life. It seems a simple word on the surface but it’s hard to define for many and that’s what we want to explore. What does it really mean to commit ourselves to something? Let's consider what commitment means fundamentally and why it matters.

Most people have a deep need to be involved. This need is expressed in our desire for close personal and professional relationships and social encounters. Likewise we have a need to feel valuable and connected in a vital way to life and work.

But commitment means little without some kind of affirmative action and to have those actions count for something. It is what we choose to do that determines the nature of our commitment. Commitment, therefore, means making a choice and giving ourselves time to involve ourselves with whatever that choice is.

Commitment means accepting the limitations of that choice as well as the benefits, and it means entering into a relationship with whatever we are committed to whether that be a person, a career, rebuilding an antique automobile, or whatever we choose to pursue.

When we make a commitment, we cannot hope to gain any greater satisfaction from the relationship than we are willing to put into it. And, ultimately, it is only through a deep commitment that we discover who we are as individuals and can grow fully and give to others freely. Commitment is not a matter of thinking thoughts or speaking words. It requires real time and real action on our part!

Mario Andretti, world champion racing car driver, said “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain the success you seek.” Success won’t happen by accident. It comes as a result of focused, sustained, effort!

Ask yourself two questions. First, what are you committed to? Second, do your actions and the way you spend your time reflect that commitment? If the latter answer doesn’t support your commitment, than rethink your commitment because there must be alignment. In the final analysis, our behavior reflects our actual intentions.

Next week we’ll discuss how leadership drives commitment in the workplace.