Over the last number of years, since some time in 2000, I have been learning more and more about what “commitment” really is. It’s funny … we hear the word, but do we really understand the meaning? We often talk about what we are committed to, but does that truly align with our actions?
In a seminar that I took with Landmark Education, one of the leaders mentioned something that really struck me as powerful. He asked the question “How can you tell what someone is truly committed to?” The key is that you could listen to what they say they are committed to, however those are just words … not the actions. Commitment is demonstrated in action.
The easiest way for any of us to look at what we are truly committed to, is to look at our lives! What we have, what we are doing, where we are in life … what IS … is what we are committed to! We can always say otherwise … but actions speak louder than words. So if our words, and the life that we have, do not align … then what is going on? A good part of this is where we spend our time. Are we spending our time on the things that we say we are committed to?
Bob Kaylor is the pastor at a church that I attend in Park City, and he gave a really good sermon a few weeks back about this exact subject. He did a rough drawing of the image that I have here in this post … and he talked about these four quadrants that our lives are spent in. These can be thought of as where we spend our time.
First, on the horizontal axis, there is “urgent” and “not urgent”. Anything the comes up during the course of the day can be placed into either of these quadrants. Is it something that has to be dealt with right now, this instant? Or can it wait? I know that I operate on this basis all day long. I have my “things to do” list … and then the constant stream of things that just come up out of no where. I either place them on my to do list, or they are urgent and I deal with them then.
Second, on the vertical axis, there are the things that are important and not important. These can be thought of as “related to our commitments” and “not related to our commitments”. This is the real difference, in my opinion, of getting things done … or not. Throughout the day there are so many interruptions and issues that can come up … and the critical skill is determining if they are important (keeping me in alignment with my commitments) or they are not important (not directly aligned with my commitments). Looking at the chart above, the key is “living above the line” … taking on the actions that are important in my life, and aligned with my commitments.
What is powerful about this, is that this technique and analysis can not only provide a good mechanism to stay on track pursuing what I say I am committed to, but it can also be used to be honest with myself and realize what I truly am committed to. Sometimes I look at what I am doing, and realize that I am down below the line working on things that are not important … and this gives me a place to start looking at what I am avoiding, and why I am not doing what I say I’m committed to. I always learn something about myself when I do that.
Are you living above the line? Are you living your life doing the things that you say you are committed to? If not … maybe looking at this chart will assist you in exploring why you aren’t living into your commitments … and maybe make a difference in your day, and have you consider what you spend your time doing each day!
P.S. The chart was my first experiment with the Google Chart API … it’s pretty cool!