Relay baton
Photograph: Leo Mason/Corbis

I sat at our table watching the video flash by on the big screen. The motivational speeches continued until late at night. We were all pretty pumped up about next year’s event. The premier mountain biking event in SA, probably in the world. When suddenly my neighbour asked me two questions.

“Why are you not entered?” and a little later after some conversation “Why are you still riding a 26” hardtail?” I love my bike. In fact Bert (my mountain bike) quite fancies himself in the same league as Conrad Stoltz’s Specialized Epic. (They are both red you know.) But ultimately I had the same answer to those questions. “My budget does not allow me these luxuries right now.”

This lead me to think about myself as a sportsman. I see myself as a committed mountain biker, runner, triathlete among other things but also I am committed to my wife. So what does this mean? How can I can I call myself the above when I don’t own a power meter and I don’t employ a coach?

Am I truly committed? And what does commitment mean?

Committing to your task means having a concrete purpose and passion for it, whether your job is large or small. It means making your task or goal a top priority in your life and consistently attacking it with enthusiasm by adopting the kind of attitudes and actions that maximize your chances of achieving it.” – Janssen Sports Leadership

So what is my purpose?

I realised that this is integral to being committed. Without it you have no measure. My purpose in each sphere of my life is different. I ride my mountain bike to the best of my ability given my circumstances. I truly enjoy my riding and yes I know that I would probably be faster on a 29″ full sus but these are my limitations right now. (Any bike sponsors out there please leave details below).

Peter van Ketz in his recent book The Eighth Summit explains that on his expeditions he was more concerned (and committed) to his partner’s well being than his own. This mission statement is so strong to be able to commit to it fully. So too in a relationship. Any relationship.

In any team you need a purpose and a common mission. Successful teams spell this out at the start. Not the start of the race but the beginning of the team. This enables us to commit. To the process and the end result. To each other and then to the goal. Whether it be winning at all costs, completing the event in a certain time or just finishing. We know from the outset that we want to win and it is up to each member to get themselves into the right shape and space to be able to achieve that goal. We also know that our partner has out back. they will do what is required to get us there.

It is obviously much easier under strong leadership. The leader spells out what the task is and what to do to achieve it. He may use input from others (or not) but the task is clear and all in the group know where they are headed.

I watch a homeless man walk along the N2 freeway. Two dogs are close behind and watch his every step closely. They are 100% committed. They know their place and they know they are loved. I see them again a few days later along the same stretch of road. Now they are running. Not letting their leader out of sight for a minute.

Goals do change but we need to verbalize what they are in order to know where we are at and how we can proceed from there.

While I am being philosophical:

Seems to me that there is a fine line between insanity and dedication…I call that line commitment.” ―Jeremy Aldana

3 thoughts on “Commitment

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