"Commitment to the life you desire changes absolutely everything. Lack of commitment changes absolutely everything, too." - Tama Kieves
Last month I spoke to the National Association of Women Business Owners of Southern Nevada about renewal, self-care and living a life of purpose. One of my questions to them was: Based on your actions what are you committed to?
All of us, both women and men, are put on this earth to do far more than cook, clean, attend meetings and return phone calls. As I stated to my audience, people like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi whom we think of with respect and awe, were not actually so different from us. The difference was they committed to their purpose and then gave it the devotion it deserves.
This morning I read an article by Tama Kieves, one of my spiritual mentors. I'd like to share that article with you. As you read, please think of how this applies to both your personal and your professional life. After all, the one thing both have in common is you.
Dive In and You'll Make the Water Warm: The Power of Commitment ©Copyright 2008 Tama J. Kieves.
Are you waiting for something wonderful to happen? Forget waiting. Commitment to the life you desire changes absolutely everything. Lack of commitment changes absolutely everything, too. Commitment is the magic wand, the sorcerer behind the bush, the technical support of the Gods.
But let's keep it simple: If you're not watering you're garden, you're killing it.
I have always struggled with commitment. It seems like a guillotine to me, a bit final. Now me, I like choice. I like walking in the meadows and gazing at all the wildflowers and options. I hate decision. Oh, and sweet mother of prairie dogs, I hate being wrong.
But here's something I'm seeing now, in my middle years. The lack of commitment is a ruptured power line. It leaks energy. Nothing ramps up without it. There are no perfect circumstances. But when we show up with love, focus, and patience, we perfect the circumstances we have. Then everything opens into a new dimension of good and possibility. Or as one of my favorite brilliant dudes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, "The only thing that can grow is the thing you give energy to."
So let's talk about diving in full force, shall we?
Commitment Brings Clarity
Sometimes you think you need more information before you commit your devotion. But devotion will give you more information than any other research.
I'll give you an example I've seen when coaching writers. Many people who want to write say, "I don't write because I have no idea what to write about." But I know that sitting down to write is one of the only ways to get clear. Clarity doesn't come out of the blue. It comes out of a black and white decision to delve into our confusion.
When I started writing my second book, it felt like writing in outer space. There was nothing there, but fog, stray molecules, and the ever present existential longing for thin thighs. But I told myself what I tell my writing students, "The writing itself knows what wants to be written." So I knew if I sat there consistently and with patience, something pure and true would come. Nowadays, I can't wait to write. I've mucked around with goop and space and finally named a shape. Now I've plucked a star.
Commitment is A Way to Grow
Years ago I went to couples therapy with my loved one. The therapist asked me if I was committed to the relationship. I stared at him in frustration. You're supposed to be the wizard, I thought. You're supposed to fix this broken carriage and then I'd be happy to commit to jumping right in. But he politely explained, that my commitment would be required if I wanted to move forward. Of course, since he was a therapist, we had to go rooting around into my fear of commitment. "I don't want to miss out on anything," I told him. "What if I commit to this almost relationship, and then Mr.-Oh-My-God- I'm-So- Perfect walks in the door two minutes later." The therapist looked at me coolly, probably with great empathy for the partner who had to live with me, and said, "You don't want to miss out, but you're missing out right now. You're missing out on the relationship in front of you." Wow, those therapists. That's why they get to talk to us about our mothers. Because every now and then they say something that will save you a thousand years of bad choices. I realized then that I would never be able to commit to a relationship only when it was perfect. I'd have to dive in and commit and that would bring out its perfection. You can't have certain experiences in the shallow end of the pool. There's just some lessons that only come with immersion. In the wisdom tradition of A Course in Miracles, it says, "Whatever is lacking in any situation, is what you're not giving to it."
Yeah, exactly. Everything good in my life requires my effort, my love, my dedication.
Commit Fully For Now, Not Forever
When I was deciding what career direction to move in, I was terrified of making a mistake. I didn't want to waste my time, so of course I wasted my time by obstinately not doing anything. I didn't want to go forward in the wrong direction. But the problem was-- I wasn't going forward in any direction. After a while, options turn into dead fish. They start smelling up the room. It's the aroma of guilt and waste and passing time. You need to use your options while they're fresh. I felt haunted and frustrated and depleted all at the same time. Finally, a friend of mine said to me "Why not commit fully for now? You don't have to commit to forever. Just commit fully for now."
I know this seems like a coward's way in, but let me tell you it works wonders. Commitment is a living thing. I believe we can only commit fully to the moment in front of us. But I had stopped doing that, believing that if I couldn't stay with something forever, then I shouldn't even go into it. I had no way of getting vital information and experience. Nowadays, when I'm coaching someone who is afraid to trust their instincts, I'll ask them to practice trusting for a day, a week, or 3 months, and then to evaluate their experience. Most often, someone wants to evaluate their experience before or while they're engaged in the activity. But it doesn't work like that. First you experiment. Then you look over your data.
*************** So, dear one, where would you like to see your life take off? Where do you want to summon energy, clarity, and a touch of invisible helping hands? Where do you want to commit your focus and attention? Just think, you could be sprouting flowers by the next email newsletter. Or you could still be standing by the bus stop waiting for a bus---that never comes by waiting.
I leave you with my love and with these words by poet and filmmaker James Broughton: "Whatever the price, pay attention. Pay attention whatever price it asks. Otherwise you will pay through the nose for your non-attention."
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