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? rbrenhNEiCWUnQpJgswXoner@ChacEfrGijAoliYfALDWoCanyon.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:

A squirrel running a cageRunning Your Personal Squirrel Cage
As Glen rounded the corner behind the old oak, entering the last mile of his morning run, he suddenly realized that he was thinking about picking up the dry cleaning tomorrow and changing his medical appointment. Physically, he was jogging in a park, but mentally, he was running in a squirrel cage. How does this happen? What can we do about it?
A team raises a wall of a new home sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentOrganizing a Barn Raising
Once you find a task that you can tackle as a "barn raising," your work is just beginning. Planning and organizing the work is in many ways the hard part.
Statue of Hermes with modern headTeamwork Myths: Formation
Much of the conventional wisdom about teams is in the form of over-generalized rules of thumb, or myths. In this first part of our survey of teamwork myths, we examine two myths about forming teams.
Sherlock Holmes and Doctor WatsonHow to Make Good Guesses: Tactics
Making good guesses probably does take talent to be among the first rank of those who make guesses. But being in the second rank is pretty good, too, and we can learn how to do that. Here are some tactics for guessing.
The REI parking garage in Denver, ColoradoThe Limits of Status Reports: I
Some people erroneously believe that they can request status reports as often as they like, and including any level of detail they deem necessary. Not so.

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Mistletoe growing in abundance in the Wye Valley, WalesComing April 25: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VI
Narcissistic behavior at work distorts decisions, disrupts relationships, and generates toxic conflict. These consequences limit the ability of the organization to achieve its goals. In this part of our series we examine the effects of exploiting others for personal ends. Available here and by RSS on April 25.
A shark of unspecified speciesAnd on May 2: Narcissistic Behavior at Work: VII
Narcissistic behavior at work prevents trusting relationships from developing. It also disrupts existing relationships, and generates toxic conflict. One class of behaviors that's especially threatening to relationships is disregard for the feelings of others. In this part of our series we examine the effects of that disregard. Available here and by RSS on May 2.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrendOUOhWXFkVxpVJjVner@ChacPaghnhXwtInFkAkHoCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, 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 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.
Technical Debt for Policymakers BlogMy blog, Technical Debt for Policymakers, offers resources, insights, and conversations of interest to policymakers who are concerned with managing technical debt within their organizations. Get the millstone of technical debt off the neck of your organization!
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.