I am a Big Dreamer. I always have been. My first night home from hospital as a baby, I actually slept through the whole night! Needless to say, my mother – who kept checking I was still breathing with a mirror – wasn’t terribly impressed; but I like to think that even then, I was already dreaming about the life ahead of me.
Dreams are amazing. One of my favourite proverbs says “the people without a vision perish”. We need to have pictures, ideas, thoughts and inspirations about where we’re heading in life, or in the very least, what we want to create with it. Just spend an hour on Pinterest and you’ll discover the power of dreaming about what to create/DIY/craft/daydream about next!
But dreams aren’t the be all and end all. Plenty of us have dreams that don’t come to fruition; and I didn’t really understand why that was, until my mentor, Patrick Dean, gave me the answer. This lesson – one of the most powerful lessons I have ever learned – was called The Commitment Ladder.
The first step on the Commitment Ladder is “Indifferent”; and I’d say that there are plenty of things we’re fairly indifferent about in our lives. There’s no bite in it, no interest. I know I’m indifferent about eating snails, or attending a spin (cycling) class, or listening to the avidly named Scream Rock. It doesn’t bother me if others want to do these things; they’re just not my cup of tea.
The next step on the Commitment Ladder is “a Wish, a Want and a Hope”. I don’t know about you, but I spend a fair bit of time on this rung, just dreaming about all the possibilities of life. Life can certainly be hard; but in spite of this, I remain curious about it, because Life is also incredibly interesting! I hope to visit every continent on Earth, I wish I could visit Disneyland tomorrow, and I really want to finish writing a book. There’s a bit more bite in these ideas, a bit more desire than “Indifferent”; but on this rung, there’s still not a lot of action!
The third step on the Commitment Ladder is “I’ll Try”; and to be honest with you, I think this is the most dangerous rung, and where most people get completely stuck. Have you ever tried to sit on a chair, for example? Now, I’m not talking about actually sitting on it, but putting all your effort into sitting and never making contact with the seat! Ridiculous, right? But that’s exactly what “I’ll Try” means! I’ve come to challenge myself and my clients when I notice “I’ll Try” in their language. “I’ll try really means NO!”, I say to them, because try means a whole lot of effort, without necessarily creating any results; but because we see all that effort, we tend to give this rung FAR more credit than it deserves. It’s a bit like Luck, and I’d rather have something more reliable in which to invest my future!
The fourth rung on the Commitment Ladder is “Unless or Until”, and it’s a bit akin to a sandy beach that looks lovely, until you realise you’re standing in quicksand. I am committed to writing a book until it gets too hard. I am committed to this relationship unless you stop making me feel happy. I am committed to this job unless someone else offers me a pay rise. And there’s nothing WRONG with having a caveat on a commitment, if you’re clear about what that is. What doesn’t work for us is when we believe we’re committed to creating something in our lives, and use this mechanism to undermine and self-sabotage, so that we don’t get the results in life that we set out to achieve!
And the last step on the Commitment Ladder? Well, it’s “Commitment”. But what does that mean exactly? The best explanation I can give you lies in a story about Thomas A. Edison, who (among other things) invented the light bulb. Now, he didn’t get it right the first time. In fact, as stories go, he failed at least 10,000 times to invent a light bulb that worked! When he was interviewed about his invention, he was asked “how does it feel to have failed over 10,000 times?”. His reply?
“If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
To summarise: he didn’t fail. He just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.
It pays to check our results. Whatever it is we’re committed to, we’re creating more of (subconsciously, more often than not!) in our life already. What would you rather be committed to, if you’re not already getting the results you want in life?
It also pays to be clear about our commitments. There are few statements more powerful, focussed and directed than:
I am committed to ___________.
So, what are you committed to creating?