Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 42;   October 16, 2002: Commitment Makes It Easier

Commitment Makes It Easier

by

When you face obstacles, sometimes the path around or through them is difficult. Committing yourself to the path lets you focus all your energy on the path you've chosen.

About 25 kilometers from Guadalajara, Mexico, at the edge of a 15-kilometer-wide caldera, is the little town of La Primavera. Much of the caldera, which is 25,000 years old, is inside a national park, which has numerous hot springs feeding hot streams. And the park is littered with blocks of obsidian, which pre-Columbian peoples used for making blades and weapons. If you're fascinated by archaeology and geology, the La Primavera caldera is a great place for hiking.

A hiker in the La Primavera caldera

A hiker in the La Primavera caldera

On one hot June afternoon, I go hiking with four friends. Going nowhere in particular, the trail crosses the Rio Caliente, which really is a hot river. If you slip or fall in, you not only get wet, you also get a nasty burn.

Approaching the stream, we check it out. The water steams as it sluices between the large rocks that are clearly the trail's intended steppingstones. The rocks are solid, smooth, and spaced a bit too far apart. To make the three leaps, you pretty much have to run, to let your momentum carry you across the gaps. If you stop on a rock, or try to walk instead of run, making the next leap will be tricky — the gaps are a bit long for a standing jump.

We talk it over. Two of us go looking for another way across, but I'm pretty sure they won't find one, because there are no other trails. The far bank is soft and sandy, so despite the steam coming off the water, and with pounding heart, I make a leaping run across. Surprised and relieved, I land on my feet in the sand of the far bank.

My friends now realize regretfully that they'll be doing the same thing. I tell them it's easy if you get a running start. "Right," is the skeptical response. One by one, though, we all get across, and continue our hike.

Sometimes, it's easier if you run.

Sometimes it's
easier if
you run
Facing an obstacle, we usually find several paths to the other side, all difficult. But sometimes proceeding cautiously makes a difficult path even more difficult. Here are some tips for difficult paths.

Take heart from others
When I saw that the trail leading straight across the stream was clear and worn, I felt encouraged. A path might be difficult, but if it's well worn, it's doable.
Commitment makes it easier
If you have to get across, accept that. If there is no easy way, let go of the wish for one. Commit yourself to doing what must be done.
Focus on the goal
Knowing that the far side was soft sand helped me. The goal is probably pretty good — if it weren't, you wouldn't be considering going there. Focus on the goal, not on the difficulty of getting there.

Although difficult paths are often worth traveling, sometimes they're not. You can't tell for sure unless you make the journey. Go to top Top  Next issue: Holey Grails  Next Issue

For more on achieving and inspiring goals, see "Corrales Mentales," Point Lookout for July 4, 2001; "Beyond WIIFM," Point Lookout for August 13, 2003; "Your Wishing Wand," Point Lookout for October 8, 2003; "Give It Your All," Point Lookout for May 19, 2004; "Knowing Where You're Going," Point Lookout for April 20, 2005; "Workplace Myths: Motivating People," Point Lookout for July 19, 2006; "Astonishing Successes," Point Lookout for January 31, 2007; and "Achieving Goals: Inspiring Passion and Action," Point Lookout for February 14, 2007.

Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunLove the work but not the job? Bad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? This ebook looks at what we can do to get more out of life at work. It helps you get moving again! Read Go For It! Sometimes It's Easier If You Run, filled with tips and techniques for putting zing into your work life. Order Now!

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenDKhIQsMTuNQnahXyner@ChacBCXexkYoEuGVeygWoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:

Approaching the Emerald City from the Yellow Brick RoadLet's Revise Our Rituals
Throughout the workday, we interact with each other on many levels. Some exchanges are so common and ritualized that we're no longer aware of them. If we revise these rituals slightly, we can add some zing to our lives.
Roger Boisjoly of Morton Thiokol, who tried to halt the launch of Challenger in 1986Towards More Gracious Disagreement
We spend a sizable chunk of time correcting each other. Some believe that we win points by being right, or lose points by being wrong, but nobody seems to know who keeps the official score. Here are some thoughts to help you kick the habit.
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin (left) with Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan GreenspanThe Paradox of Confidence
Most of us interpret a confident manner as evidence of competence, and a hesitant manner as evidence of lesser ability. Recent research suggests that confidence and competence are inversely correlated. If so, our assessments of credibility and competence are thrown into question.
Ammi Visnaga, a nile weed that has medicinal valueDown in the Weeds: II
To be "down in the weeds,' in one of its senses, is to be lost in discussion at a level of detail inappropriate to the current situation. Here's Part II of our exploration of methods for dealing with this frustrating pattern so common in group discussions.
A piece of chocolate cakeEgo Depletion and Priority Setting
Setting priorities for tasks is tricky when we find the tasks unappealing, because we have limited energy for self-control. Here are some strategies for limiting these effects on priority setting.

See also Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York CityComing August 23: Look Where You Aren't Looking
Being blindsided by an adverse event could indicate the event's sudden, unexpected development. It can also indicate a failure to anticipate what could have been reasonably anticipated. How can we improve our ability to prepare for adverse events? Available here and by RSS on August 23.
"The Thinker," by Auguste RodinAnd on August 30: They Just Don't Understand
When we cannot resolve an issue in open debate, we sometimes try to explain the obstinacy of others. The explanations we favor can tell us more about ourselves than they do about others. Available here and by RSS on August 30.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenwUkaXZdCSUmqKiZgner@ChacrJYTfYwAcrjfvaTBoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here are some dates for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented OrganizationsAre your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around.
Reader Comments About My Newsletter
A sampling:
  • Your stuff is brilliant! Thank you!
  • You and Scott Adams both secretly work here, right?
  • I really enjoy my weekly newsletters. I appreciate the quick read.
  • A sort of Dr. Phil for Management!
  • …extremely accurate, inspiring and applicable to day-to-day … invaluable.
  • More
101 Tips for Managing ConflictFed up with tense, explosive meetings? Are you the target of a bully? Learn how to make peace with conflict.
Ebooks, booklets and tip books on project management, conflict, writing email, effective meetings and more.
Comprehensive collection of all e-books and e-bookletsSave a bundle and even more important save time! Order the Combo Package and download all ebooks and tips books at once.