Wednesday, February 13, 2019

All Our Mistakes Are Burned Up. Now We Can Start Anew

There is a story about Thomas Edison, whom some have said that at one time opened a new shop at the age of 67. Thomas Edison watched as fire destroyed much of his work and equipment. Most of us would say it was time to retire? Was it time to hang up the lab coat? That was not certainly not Edison’s way.

The Inventor said: “All our mistakes are burned up. Now we can start anew.” Edison knew his time to retire hadn’t come. The fire that consumed his work didn’t destroy the fire that burned within him to continue his work. Edison’s commitment remained.

Now I can’t tell you that the above is true, but looking at Edison’s life body of work, his failures and successes, I have come to believe his commitment was there. John Maxwell said that people tend to associate commitment with emotions. Commitment is not an emotion; it’s a character quality that allows us to reach our goals. Emotions go up and down all the time, but commitment is the foundation of rock we stand on. A solid team in business, sports, marriage or a volunteer organization--must have a team of players who are solidly committed to the team.

Maxwell says there are four things every team member needs to know about being committed:

  1. Commitment is usually discovered in the midst of adversity. 
  2. Commitment does not depend on gifts and abilities. 
  3. Commitment results from choices, not conditions. 
  4. Commitment lasts when it is based on values.

You never know the level of your commitment or that of any one until things get tough. Every one of us could stay committed to a marriage if everything was always good. Every one of us could stay committed to good health as long as we were healthy. The trick is to stay committed to the commitment when the economy takes a turn for the worse or when you lose your biggest account or when your plant burns to the ground.

Commitment, because it is a character trait, is revealed, not built, by adversity.

Commitment and talent are not connected. Many talented people lack commitment. Many people who lack skills and talent are tremendously committed. So if you find somebody who’s extremely talented, there is no guarantee that there is a high level of commitment. For this reason, it becomes a great day when we connect talent with commitment; for ourselves and for those on the teams we lead. The moment that happens, the team goes to a whole new level.


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