The shadow side of The Commitment: life in one dimension

The last post about commitment could probably have been posted in just about any entrepreneurial blog. As an industry of startup founders and the networks that support them, we exalt The Commitment. The story is told over and over of the “heroes” that became top of their field, icons forsaking all else. Case in point: Steve Jobs. His journey is well documented even long after his death.

We lionize the success (and ignore the clear cuts of emotional destruction often caused by these single-minded entrepreneurial icons). They motivate a new generation of zealots to double-down, focus harder, spend more hours working and more money on prototypes, forsaking all else. We can follow this storyline into dark alleys of drug use that can allow for greater productivity, mask feelings of shame and depression and hide the scars from putting up the front that it is as easy as it looks.

Complex commitment

The Commitment is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Most of us know that The Commitment is required. To reach our aspirational goals, we need to commit. The finesse comes into how we act out that commitment. It’s a dedication to a goal, but not forsaking all else. The cost of the commitment is an extra piece we would do well to wrap into our commitment. Our world is beautiful and we have an opportunity to make our lives rich. The Commitment doesn’t have to wreak havoc.

What does commitment look like then, if it doesn’t actually look like Steve Jobs?

Commitment looks like walking firmly in the direction of our goals and values.

As Morpheus, the sage of The Matrix” says, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”

Walking firmly in the direction of our values allows us to be committed to more than one thing at a time. We can be committed to starting a business and being present to other aspects of our lives. For some, it’s a commitment to raise children well. Others it may be a commitment to our employees, partners and investors. It can be countless other things. There’s plenty of room when life is not lived in one dimension.

The trouble comes when we underestimate ourselves. When we think we can only do one thing at a time. In actuality, commitment exists in the fourth dimension. We can be committed to more than one thing… unless those things are in direct opposition.

Beyond business

It’s more clear when you think about this in other areas besides business. Consider this: Commitment to sobriety and commitment to hanging with all people who use drugs is in opposition. If you walk firmly in the direction of sobriety, those using drugs will likely fall away. The people that will show up in your life will be more actively supportive of your goals and values. It may be less clear in business, but it works the same way.

Our fourth dimension allows us to be committed to many things that reflect our values; building a business, supporting family, getting healthy.

Think of yourself in the fourth dimension and walk firmly in the direction of your values.

Now, what are you committed to?

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