“If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna” (Napoleon Bonaparte).
THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “COMMITMENT” AND MERELY “GIVING IT A TRY.” For every failure that results from a lack of skill, there are millions more that result from a lack of commitment. We almost guarantee defeat by the fine print we write into our promises. Trying to keep our options open, we lose the benefit of radical choice. And too often, when we look back we see a trail of broken promises, unfinished business, and dreams that didn’t work out. Our lives are littered with might-have-beens, justified in our minds with excuses about what happened to us. All along, however, the problem was simply that we weren’t willing to close the back door.
Commitment is especially important when two or more people are trying to reach a mutual goal. Lou Holtz, who knows a thing or two about how to get a job done, said this: “It’s tough enough getting the boat to shore with everybody rowing, let alone when a guy stands up and starts putting his life jacket on.” To which I simply say, “Amen!”
Vincent van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. When I look at his paintings, I, along with many others, feel a powerful pull into his imaginative world. And it’s no coincidence that he could say, “I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.” Great art, like anything else great, is the result of bolting the back door shut.
Over the years, I’ve read a good bit about commitment, but I’ve never seen its real meaning expressed more clearly than by Robert Moorehead: “My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in a maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, let up, or slow up.”
If those words don’t describe the pursuit of your goal, you don’t have a goal — you just have a wish. Go get yourself a goal and commit yourself to it with the soul of a warrior who will, in the words of General George S. Patton, “either conquer or perish with honor.”
“You can’t try to do things; you simply must do them” (Ray Bradbury).