Can You Be Too Committed?

Can You Be Too Committed?

If you’ve read my articles over the years, you will know commitment is one of the foundations of strong leadership. Leadership is about generating the commitment in others to want to join you to create a new compelling future. Given this, you might be surprised by the title of this post. Can you be too committed?

Being Committed is critical

A while ago, I would have said no but a recent article changed my mind. It wasn’t written in a business or leadership oriented publication. The article appeared in the Uphill Athlete blog, entitled “Commitment Is Not Discipline”. Of course, the title captured my attention but I had no idea of the insight that would follow.

The article is for athletes training for grueling mountain running, and other uphill athletic pursuits. In it, the author highlights the importance of commitment to a goal to fuel the training program. Day after day, week after week of tough training. But then I was surprised. Yes, commitment is important but don’t over do it. You can become too committed.

Cause and effect is the key

This leads to over-training and becoming fatigued or worse injury. Sometimes, more is not better. The key is keeping an eye on cause and effect. Are your actions generating the desired results. In this case getting fitter and ready to race? The same is true in leadership, are the actions you are taking leading to the desired results? When we are too committed, we tend to over work. If we do more, we will achieve the desired outcome. That might be true but often it isn’t.

This is where the article excels. You need commitment, but you also need to discipline. The discipline to know when to step back and assess how things are going. Are the current actions leading to success and what changes are needed? This is critical whether you are a top athlete or a business leader. More is not always better.

Comments (2)

Thank you for sharing this article Andy. I’m looking forward to reading it.
I think you are bringing up something significant here as we can get confused about commitment. One of the reasons we can find ourselves overworking in our desire to stay committed is by being attached to success, feeling responsible for the result, etc. It’s important to remember what is within our control and what isn’t .. and that’s not the easiest task!

You make such a great point Francoise. Many things are outside of our control and while we are committed, that is no guarantee we can achieve the desired outcome. This is a source of so much burnout and sadly wasted effort.

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