Stay committed in your decision yet flexible in your approach


Can I do commitment?  Sure, I can.  During lockdown, with gyms closed, so I decided to do  ‘Couch to 5K’, the running app. I loved it, I was really exhilarated by the continuing challenge and I completed the nine-week course by running three lots of 5K.  I feel so much fitter for having done it – this is the value I gained by committing to the app.  I run an internal strategy for pretty much most things that I do.  I call it ‘the reward before the work’ strategy. Take my run for example, it is a ‘there-and-back circuit’. As I run from the start mark to the halfway mark I visualise passing myself on the way home, always faster and breathing easier; and so when I have to run that second half my commitment is beyond question, I have already done the graft and I relax into the work ahead. 

The coronavirus lockdowns that are currently in force demonstrate commitment on a global scale where social value and community value are the front and centre benefits, with environmental value a welcome by-product – Amen to that.  This pandemic was and is something that we are certainly not going to get out of by chance, but by commitment, by hard word, by tenacity. At the Six ‘I’s® of Innovation we define the mindset of commitment as ‘staying committed despite challenges and to be dedicated to achieving results. This explains perfectly how I felt and acted when doing ‘Couch to 5K’ – I had invested in the decision to act because I had a great ‘fitness-why’, and I had a great ‘I am now a runner’ outcome firmly within my sights. 

And then the app finished; and it coincided with the week I had scheduled to write about commitment.  Am I surprised that I ‘gave myself the week off’ when it was time to write about commitment? No. My individual Six ‘I’s® of Innovation profile report shows me that the ‘implement’ stage of the innovation process is where I am not as strong as the other areas; this is the stage that requires the mindset of commitment.  Should this worry me? No. I am super strong in three of the six areas and we humans always find it easier to be better at what we are already good at.  If I were still working corporately, I would be surrounded by people who have this as a top strength – great, that gives me resources, yay!  However, that is no longer the case; I work for myself now and I am finding ways to really ramp up my commitment to commitment.  Amongst other things, I made up my own ‘Profit and Loss’ spreadsheet the other day with formulas and all other manner of excel related witchcraft; it took me ages and it was a superbly cathartic exercise.  As I reflect on that now, I realise that I am learning to collaborate with the parts of me that find tenacity a challenge – in no small part thanks to the ‘Couch to 5K’.  

Now, as the four nations of the UK begin to ease lockdown restrictions, businesses will require innovation to reboot to adapt to the new normal.  And with this people will also need a reset. A good part of committing to our own future is going to come from grit and resilience.  There will be days when we just want to give up, and that’s fine, listen to yourself and hit the pause button if you need to – If we didn’t have a bad day every once in a while then we’d have no way of knowing what a good one looks like. A mindset of commitment in service of a great outcome and purpose will keep us on track.  I am reminded of airline pilots; they take off from one airport destined for another, and once the hard work of take-off is done they spend the journey resetting the course to avoid things like turbulence, or unfriendly airspace, or heavy traffic spots, yet all the time convinced of arriving well at the destination. This in itself is a metaphor for life, we adapt, change course, and learn as we go, and where are we more committed than in pursuing our own life causes (even though sometimes we might not always know what they are).  In other words, we all know commitment, we all do commitment; and tripping up every now and then is not the end of the world. 

The Spanish have a saying that I love “Si te caes siete veces, levántate ocho” (If you fall seven times, get up eight) – simple, yet effective.

This post originally appeared in Neil’s LinkedIn page

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