Favored Are the Steadfast

by Ron Potter

Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action.
But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.

Image Source: Ed Schipul, Creative Commons

Image Source: Ed Schipul, Creative Commons

William Wallace personified commitment.

The movie Braveheart tells the story of this hero-leader. He is the warrior-poet who became the liberator of Scotland in the early 1300s. As the film begins we see that Scotland has been under the iron fist of English monarchs for centuries. Wallace is the first to defy the English oppressors and emerges as the leader of an upstart rebellion. Eventually he and his followers stand up to their tyrants in a pivotal battle.

Wallace inspires his “army” as he shouts, “Sons of Scotland, you have come here to fight as free men, and free men you are!”
That battle is won. Later, though, Wallace is captured by the English and, after refusing to support the king, dies a terrible, torturous death. His last word? “FREEDOM!”

As a leader, Wallace understood the need to commit to personal core values, and he was able to inspire others to join him to the death for a noble, transcending vision: the cause of freedom.

This kind of response from others is what’s possible for leaders who understand the clarifying and galvanizing strength of commitment.

Commitment to Values

Knowing what you want is very important.

It’s surprising how many people, even those in leadership roles in large organizations, do not really know what they want. They are good people with good motives and good ideas. They work hard and get a lot done. But their values are inconsistent; their vision is not clear. They are wandering in fog.

To ultimately realize the power of commitment, you must be sure of where you are going and what attitudes and behavior will ensure that you arrive at your destination with your head held high.

Origins of Commitment

Commitment has its origins in clearly perceived values and vision.

Long ago, when I was growing up and forming my first understanding of life, I was mentored by a father who knew what kind of boy he wanted around the family house. Both men were committed to a simple core value: honesty.

Telling a lie was the worst thing one could do. Such an act brought great disappointment to my father and resulted in immediate sentencing and punishment. I quickly gained a deep appreciation for the wisdom of telling the truth. Looking back, I recognize that learning the value of honesty so young has served me well ever since. Being truthful has made me a better man and better leader. Such deep commitment to integrity began when my father focused my attention on honesty.

What my dad did also reveals how values and vision interrelate. My father had a vision for the kind of offspring he wanted to produce: a man of integrity. He knew that honesty would be a key foundation stone in building an individual with that type of character.

Commitment is not worth much if you have a distorted vision and rotten values. It is crucial, then, for leaders to develop the right core values. Right actions flow out of right values such as integrity, honesty, human dignity, service, excellence, growth, and evenhandedness. This set of values will determine much about the vision that leaders create and how they work with and through people—essentially how they lead and to what they are committed.

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