In a world filled with instant gratification and abundance of choice, commitment to a long-term goal becomes much more difficult to achieve. This is especially true for young people who are trying to find their way amongst all this noise.
Yet, there are plenty of people in this world who are quietly committing themselves to dreams, goals and aspirations with a humbleness that is inspiring. It’s important that educators highlight these individuals whether they’re from the past or present. Students often get confused with the subtle difference between contribution and commitment. They may feel like they’re committed to school, a sports team or a club but in reality they’re only contributing to it.
Here’s the difference: When you have bacon and eggs for breakfast, you’re reaping the rewards of animals who have provided a source of nutrition through contribution and commitment. The eggs? Well a chicken contributed to your breakfast. And the pig? Well he committed to it. There are those who approach a goal with full effort, but carefully walk the line. When the going gets tough or motivation isn’t there, they put their efforts elsewhere. Commitment on the other hand is when you leave no exit. Achieving your goals is the only option. Burn the boats as the saying goes.
We should approach our goals like pigs on a breakfast plate. If you start down the path and it doesn’t feel right, then clearly you’re not committed. Terry Fox was pulled of the road near Thunder Bay, Ontario. While he was being wheeled away from the hospital, journalists stuck a mic in his face and asked him how he was doing. His voice cracked as he whimpered “I have a tumour in both my lungs, but if there’s anyway I can get back out there, I will.” Terry set a goal greater than himself. When it was ripped away from him, it wasn’t the tumour in the lungs that bothered him so much. It was the inability to achieve his mission - to run across Canada for cancer research. Terry ran like a pig.
Throughout history there are plenty of people who committed to a cause no matter the cost. Churchill standing up to Hitler alone, Jesus spending his 30s spreading the word of God and Nelson Mandela’s struggle to end Apartheid are just a few examples of a commitment to something grand, noble and more important than the individual.
As educators we need to take notes from history to inspire our students to commit to an idea greater than themselves. When you are doing something for someone else and leave no exit, magical things can happen. It no longer becomes about the goal, but instead about the journey. Terry fox only finished 50% of his goal yet there isn’t a Canadian who would give him a ‘D’ for his effort.
Today’s education system supports failure. Why don’t we use that to our advantage and inspire students to leave no exits and take a leap of faith towards their goals.