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Edition 250 – Aspiration vs. Commitment

One of Australia’s best ever motor racing drivers, Canadian born Allan Moffat, once coined the term “Never let ambition outweigh ability”. A four time Australian Touring Car Champion and four times winner of the epic Bathurst 1000 kilometre endurance race, he certainly exhibited both in spades over a glorious 25 year career.

Allan’s quote has come to mind in recent weeks as I’ve observed a number of instances of aspiration exceeding commitment amongst various individuals. What I mean by this is I’m hearing stories of what people want out of business and out of life. Yet, when it comes to investing the time, effort and commitment to acquiring new skills or making change in their business and their lives, there’s an initial sugar hit of improved activity that, in most situations, is quickly followed by those individuals reverting back to their normal ways. Funny thing is, they don’t revert their aspirations back to their former level.

I believe there are a number of reasons why aspiration exceeds commitment for some people including:

  1. They’re too busy looking at what others have, rather than designing what they desire for themselves.
  2. They observe the business success of others at a point in time, not over time – which means they don’t see the graft that has been invested to achieve the level of success.
  3. People want to copy the signs of success, not the path to it.
  4. Individuals are not held accountable by a mentor or external party towards achieving their desired level of success.
  5. They’re not honest with themselves about their desire to change.
  6. They’re scared to try and fail and, in the process, limit themselves. Often, our best learning is through failure, not success.

Back in my University days, I finished the second year of my full time degree and decided that I needed a full time job to avoid starvation and any further reduction to my already meagre standard of living. I reasoned that by swapping to Part Time study, I would only add another 18 months to the whole process. Except, my aspiration to finish my degree in that second year and be the first in the history of my family to have graduated from University exceeded my level of commitment. You see, I failed a couple of subjects and, having already parked another one mid-semester, it meant that when the results were issued, I’d not passed the minimum number of subjects for a semester. The University placed me on probation, which was a first strike. If I didn’t pull my socks up and there was a second strike, I would then be required to show cause as to why they shouldn’t throw me out.

Back in late 1987, I can tell you there was nothing as effective as a swift kick up the backside, which was what the note from University on my Semester report card that read “On Probation” did for me. My failure that semester meant that I added two years to my degree, not 18 months. However, I realigned my commitment with my aspirations, focussed my energies and committed to completing my degree.

In all of that, notice how I didn’t lower my aspirations but instead, improved my level of commitment? So important to me was it that I graduated from University that lowering my aspirations was never on the cards.

As we hit the home stretch towards the Christmas break, I’d encourage you to consider what are your Aspirations in all areas of your life. Then view those in light of what your level of Commitment is. If they don’t currently marry up, you can lower one or increase the other. Otherwise, don’t complain when what you wanted to achieve is not what you have actually achieved in your business, your career and your life.

In my first year of university, I majored in Beer. In my second year of university, I majored in First Year

Phil Symchych – Saskatchewan, Canada.