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“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.”

In the past two weeks, I’ve been fortunate to speak to 15 CEOs battling a challenging economy and attempting to grow their business, 80 executives between jobs and trying to stay positive, 300 salespeople struggling to see more prospects and make more sales, 400 child advocates battling a growing epidemic of abuse and a shrinking budget, and 60 health care professionals challenged to do more with less. Seemingly very different markets, missions and struggles, but the one word they each used to describe how they felt about their willingness to fight for the opportunities in front of them: Committed.

I’ve witnesses the importance and impact of commitment; witnessed how commitment hurdles over momentary struggle, endures unbearable challenge, celebrates unexpected joys, and remains focused on the possibility of tomorrow.

Real commitment is seen in great teachers, athletes, and leaders. I’ve seen no finer example in all my travels and meetings, though, than the one set at home by my Mom and Dad. Today, they celebrate the beginning of their 45th year together.

Four and a half decades ago they imagined what their life might look like together. Their marriage has gone exactly like they planned. They enjoy a strong relationship, six healthy kids, 14 grandbabies, loving friends, a robust faith, early retirement, basically, the good life!

Well, with a few deviations to the plan.

Forty-five years have brought not only the joys mentioned above, but incredible struggles to Mom and Dad. In addition to the MANY challenges that all families deal with (disappointments in relationships, frustrations professionally, challenges with children, station wagons that break down on vacations!, etc), they have also survived significant adversity.

They’ve had two house fires (yes, TWO fires!); one of their children severely burned, hospitalized in critical condition for months and physically scarred forever; very real challenges with all of the children, Mom’s Fibromyalgia and the pain it causes her joints and muscles, and 20 years of Dad’s Parkinson’s Disease – which has lead to incredible stress financially, mentally and physically. And yet, through 45 years of ups and downs, they remain committed to – and in love with – one another.

The definition of commitment is the act of pledging and engaging oneself in a promise or a pledge. So often I hear from the groups, companies and individuals we partner with that they are committed to taking the next step forward, that they are fully engaged and ready to make the radical shift necessary to grow their numbers, their business, their relationships and their life.

Always keep in mind, though, the gulf between commitment and interest. When we are interested we act because the circumstances permit and we get something out of it. When we are committed we accept no excuses, point no fingers, and submit to no failure because we chose to invest something into it.

So here’s my question: Are you interested or committed? Are you interested or committed to expanding and thriving emotionally, financially, physically, professionally, relationally and spiritually?

And here’s my challenge:
If you truly want to be committed, how are you going to live that commitment today and everyday?
What will you do (or not do) to help improve or change the emotional, financial, physical, professional, relational and spiritual aspects of your life?
Take the first step. Today.

When the tides of change and challenge come (and they WILL!), remember that life is not what happens to you, but ultimately and always dependent upon how you respond to it.

My friends, COMMIT today! Your life, your relationships, your work and your legacy demand it!

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