tension and commitment: finding a generative way through

Yet another blog post on commitment. Why? Because it is the single best way to achieve the future you desire. When you make a commitment you set in motion actions that will lead you to a future different than your current reality. You give yourself hope.

Through committing to something you have yet to achieve, you also create tension in your system. Tension can move parts of our system to support us or out of the way of our progress.

Tension can also create stress. Maybe someone will be upset with your commitment. Maybe you will disappoint someone. If you try and fail, you may disappoint yourself.

These are all possible outcomes. However, you can swing the odds in your favor if you try a few generative practices to ensure your success. Two ways of making sure you have reserves to go the distance toward your commitment are to really dig deep into why this means something to you and generative self-talk.

Deep down inside there is a reason for this commitment to surface, an internal need to be met. Nurturing a need with a vague commitment and negative self-talk will drive the need deeper into the cells of your being eventually causing physiological systemic reactions: rampant inflammation or arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, etc.. Those conditions are real and hard to unravel! Let’s prevent them before they begin!

Here are two steps toward building reserves and sustaining your commitments when the tension gets high:

  • Write for five minutes a day. Take time in the morning or evening to reflect on why this commitment is important to you. Remember holding yourself back because your writing is so terrible is counterproductive (remember positive self-talk?). Whatever you write is worth it!!
    • When you have landed on your deeper reason there will be some sort of emotional response within your system (anger, sadness, fear, or happiness). Notice how you react to this revelation. Do you distract, run away, or move forward too fast? Through noticing we can wake our internal observer to our automatic patterns of behavior, and then decide if those behaviors still serve the intended purpose.
  • Describe your successes in your head or out loud at least 5 times per day. Be specific and non-judgmental, basically describe the scene, what a video camera or microphone would pick up.
    • Specific and non-judgmental feedback helps your system trust that you value yourself. When you trust yourself you stop looking for validation elsewhere. Yes, this technique really works!! This valuing of yourself adds to the reserves you will need to sustain your commitment.
      • A generative statement may sound like the following, “I notice you made a choice in line with your commitment.” Or “I notice that you wrote this morning about the value of your commitment.” Or “I notice you thought about your commitment.” No success is too small.
      • A non-generative or evaluative statement sounds like “good job” or “well done” which are non-specific (good job on what? well done, meat?) and judgmental of our action as being good or bad.

Though tension is generally thought of as something unwanted, it can also be a good indicator of progress if we understand that it will happen and take the proper precautions to ensure our victory. Can we create the reserves to weather the storm of tension between what is and what will be? Try the steps above and you are bound to be successful. If you run into trouble invite perspective, share your commitment, and be bold.

Leadership Presence and Commitment

I have an executive coach friend who over ten years ago stated a goal to create a course to empower women. She has had this goal since her teens. She wanted to offer women resources to gain confidence and ‘kick ass’ in their career while finding happiness and balance. Over the course of the last twelve years, this was always a topic of our conversation in some way. She kept putting her commitment out into the universe, to her coachees, to her peers and other support networks. Well, this month she is launching her dream, WIRL (Women in Real Life) https://www.wirlsummit.com/, an online summit for women who want to develop their leadership, but still want a balanced life. Sounds pretty great huh?

To me this is the ultimate definition of commitment: a persistent desire that motivates a person to take risks in their life in service of a greater good (my definition). This is definitely a risk for her. She is putting a lot of time, energy and scariest of all, her dream, into the world and hoping that it will benefit others. She has had to prioritize her time between being the bread winner, creating a new business, being a Mom and taking time for self-care. All this juggling can be stressful and consuming and at times she loses site of the goal. But she is smart and allows herself to be impacted each day by information that supports her commitment and reifies the deeply held importance of her devotion.

If we have a strong desire to bring something forward in the world and we are connected to why this is important to us we become a magnet for others. They can see where they stand because we know where we are. From this stand for ourselves and our vision, we waiver less and can challenge perspectives with spaciousness and grace. This strength is compelling and often encourages others to trust and follow us.

Commitment is the foundation of leadership presence. In order to discover our commitment we have to be able to wake our internal observer and connect to ourselves and others to know what deeply stirs us.  What do we believe in that drives us forward?

When pondering your commitment it is important to ask yourself some questions. You can also ask questions of others but make sure you answer them for yourself first. Then if you discover something and want to check it out or get stuck, invite perspective. The answers to these questions may not land you into your lifelong commitment, but they will begin to develop awareness to what has the most meaning for you. Here are a few suggestions to start you on your path:

  1. Where in my life have I taken a stand, stood up for something or someone, that has surprised me?
  2. What activities give me the most joy and fulfillment?
  3. Where do I lose myself? I lose track of time or time stands still, or the outside world fades away and I am focused or the outside world comes alive in a different way.
  4. What have I always longed for? Go as far back as you remember.

All answers are valid and important. Usually the first thing that comes to mind is what you ought to write down no matter how silly or stupid or unrealistic you think it may be.

For example, maybe you took a stand for an elephant once or a squirrel. You may think this is silly but write it down. Watch your judgments. Sometimes our commitments cannot come to life because we harshly judge our desires and fail to see their value. For the second question you discover the activity that fulfills you is writing, as you can lose yourself in writing. And after you are done you begin value yourself more and to see the world anew. And you have always longed to teach; as far back as you can remember teaching had value to you. These seemingly disparate elements have essential themes that create a foundation on which we build our commitment. In fact this is the foundation on which my commitment is built.

All of us, somewhere inside, have a desire to offer something to the world. It may be a stellar foundation for our kids to move from, it may be a women’s leadership summit, it may be a gift to pushing the limits of human potential in sports, regardless of who you are there is something that drives you.

In our next Leadership Presence series, we will uncover the drive behind your actions. We will flesh out the commitment and the compelling reason that propels you to get your vision out in the world. This commitment then becomes a non-negotiable; you cannot live your life without fulfilling on it. Your declaration may scare you. Or make you think who am I to want that? Then you know you are in the right place!

The friend I mentioned above has been in practice of making this dream a reality for over 20 years, maybe more. Sometimes it takes a long time to realize our dreams. Sometimes a commitment is an overnight decision, but somewhere inside it has been percolating.  Begin now; life will not wait until you are ready. If everyone in the world realized their commitment in service of a greater good, I say the world would be a different place. Invite perspective; the earth, people and you need your individual commitment and leadership.

To read more about what I have written on commitment go here https://inviteperspective.wordpress.com/2011/04/05/commitment-a-somatic-definition/ and here https://inviteperspective.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/the-power-of-commitment/.