What a Difference a Commitment Makes
Winnipeg weather can sure be an adventure!
* Thursday, April 29th, 2011 sunny, 22°
* Sunday, May 1, 2011 snowing, wind gusting to 55 km an hour, -15° with the windchill
One day, great weather for a jog wearing shorts and sunscreen. Just two days later, toques, gloves, and traction grips for running shoes were the typical attire. On May 1, the Winnipeg Police Service Half Marathon took place in support of the Canadian Cancer Society and despite the crazy conditions, over 1500 people showed up to run, jog or walk along with all the volunteers and event organizers.
I woke up earlier than usual on Sunday morning and looked out my window to see a blanket of snow and the wind blowing around the trees. It would have been easy (and likely) that I would have just crawled back into bed if it weren’t for the fact that I had made a commitment.
I had committed to myself several months ago that I would run in this event and do the training necessary to prepare and get more fit. I made a commitment to my relay running partner that we would participate in this event as a team. I made a commitment to the event organizers that I would honour the work that they put into making the whole thing happen. And, I made a commitment to the Canadian Cancer Society to raise funds for ongoing research.
I would dare to guess that the majority of the other participants, runners, volunteers, organizers, and even those who cheered along the route, also considered just staying in bed, or at least in their warm homes that morning, if it weren’t for the commitment they had made. I’m sure some people stayed home, but it would have been a small percentage.
It may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway; the more committed we are to something, the more likely we will make it happen. With this running event as the example, I was fully committed to it. I had made a financial commitment, I made a commitment to a friend, I made a commitment to my health, and I made a commitment to a cause. There was also a time frame attached to this event and it wasn’t an option to put it off for a day or two until the weather improved. It was May 1 and that was that. I know for sure that I wouldn’t have bundled up that morning if I could have put off the run for another day when the sun was shining. I know I am really committed to something when it is a challenge to follow-through.
A strong commitment is often the key to keeping us on track for following our desires, dreams, and goals. However, there may be circumstances when following through on a commitment is not the best course of action.
The MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Walk was also scheduled for May 1. It was cancelled. Were the organizers and volunteers of this event any less committed that those of the Police Half Marathon? Did the participants invest less time, money, and heart? I’m 100% sure that they were just as committed as me.
But here’s where I see the difference. I was not going to be putting myself at significant risk by participating in this event. The cold was something I could easily adjust to. It was not going to cause me pain or impact my motor skills. For many people who have MS, cold temperatures can cause joint pain, numbness, and decreased coordination. Doing a walk in the May 1 conditions could have been detrimental to some people who would have been participating and therefore, the risk was too great. The organizers of the MS Walk have encouraged all those that signed up to follow-through on their walk over the next two weeks and fulfill their commitment.
So here’s the lesson about commitment from my perspective. It is a great motivator and helps us to achieve the things that are important to us even when faced with challenges and obstacles. However, we must become aware of those situations in which following through on a commitment does us more harm than good. If we are causing ourselves (or someone else) pain, it is time to review the commitment. This could relate to a relationship, a job, a behaviour, etc.
In the words of Tom Robbins;
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”