It’s funny the things that you think about at 5am in the shower. I have a lot of stuff to do on a Tuesday morning and the shower is one of the last. So, I have already been up for over an hour getting ready for the day ahead, so the brain has been focused for the whole of that time. Don’t get me wrong. Many of these things are quite mundane. I need to get up, brush my teeth, empty the dishwasher, feed the cats etc., so it is hardly taxing on my neck top computer. Nonetheless, I need to stay focused because I do not have a lot of time to spare. So, I walk into the shower, and it is a moment to relax and take stock. In this moment, what does my mind focus on? It could be anything or nothing but this morning that brain of mine, that neck top computer decided to go into freefall, and I had a piece written in my mind almost before the shampoo.
My problem is that while I was coming up with all this inspiration, there was no way of recording my miraculous words. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a good enough memory, but the operating system needs an overhaul as the recall routines in my neck top computer need to be upgraded. Anyway, as best I can remember, here it is!
What is commitment? This is an obvious topic to ponder in the shower. What is it and why do we commit to some things and not to others? Does our approach change as we get older?
One thought I had was that commitment just means that you have run out of choices and so are stuck with what you have and where you are and that you are just too scared to break away. I considered this as I applied the shower gel and concluded that this was not right. By the time I was ready for the shampoo, I had decided that I did not have an adequate definition of commitment that made sense to me and so started to think about the things and people that I have consciously committed to in my life.
I have been in business for a long time. Does that mean that I am committed to that way of life? Probably. I sink or swim by my own efforts and I like that. It seems to suit me. Maybe I am just unemployable!
Helen and I have been together for 30 years this September. Is that commitment? But we had both been married before and each had children. Were we really committed to these relationships? We thought we were at the time. I think we are committed to helping all our children. Why? They are all independent and (generally) don’t need our material help anymore.
Helen and I are committed to our business. We want to see it grow and flourish. We (generally) like our clients and want to see them grow and flourish as well. I enjoy the thrills and spills of professional life, but it is not for everyone.
So, what is commitment? Where does it come from and what is the driver, the motivation to commit? I think the answer to this question, for the moment, is that I just don’t know. I don’t know if there is something in my upbringing, something in my life experiences or some inner hunger that lies at the heart of it.
I suppose it’s a bit like the laptop I am using. It works, it does all the things that I want it to. Helen thinks I spend too much on my laptops but that’s another story. It fulfils a role in my life, and it makes so much possible. But I do not need to know how it works. I don’t need to know the history of the company (Dell) that made it. I do not need to know how it was built or why. I just accept that at this point in my life, it serves me well. In a year or two, it will be replaced. In a few years, laptops will be able to do so much more but just now, this is good for me.
I view commitment in the same way. There is something going on in my neck top computer that drives me to certain decisions and leads me to commit to people, actions, desired outcomes etc. I do not actually need to understand why. I just must accept that it exists and that it serves me well.
We are complex beings, the result of nature and nurture. I have free will, I think, but that is coloured by my genes and all the experiences in my life. I have absolute choice over everything that I do, as do you. I could go and rob a bank if I choose, but my neck top computer tells me it is wrong and anyway, not only do I not know how, the downside of getting caught is not a pleasant thought. I choose to get up early. I choose to work the way I do, the time I spend on our business and where. It is all my choice to make. It is all entirely up to me. Why do I make these choices? What about you? Why do you do what you do?
I was recently listening to a CD in my car. It was a CD I bought many years ago and I like to hear it again from time to time because it helps me to refresh the programming in my neck top computer. In it, the author gave a very interesting explanation for the reason why he did things in his life, and it has resonated with me.
His explanation for why he ran 6 kilometres every day of his life, wherever he was, rain wind or shine was quite illuminating. He said, “because it makes sense to me.”
So, I make choices, I commit, and I make judgements as I navigate through my life because it makes sense to me. I need no other explanation. My soul is not troubled with having to find any deeper meanings.
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Alan E Long
The Long Partnership