COMMITMENT VS. OBLIGATION
“The ability to commit ourselves is probably the most remarkable and constitutive aspect of our existence” (Jim Selman)
Commitment is a fundamental element for a coaching process. It generates action, change and, therefore, knowledge. Commitment is substantial to the human being and directly influences our interpersonal relationships and the achievement of our objectives. We are committed to something and that leads us to make a certain choice or another. We call these choices prioritizing one task over another. For this, it’s essential to firstly identify our goal, our objective and check what our level of commitment is.
Here we must alert ourselves to the “I have to”, “I would like”, “I would love to … but …” and pay special attention to the “I want”, “I’m going for it” …, the latter are indicators of commitment. Commitment is a lever that leads us to prioritize, so when I am clear about what I want and I’m committed, the excuse of “I don’t have time” disappears.
If we look at what we each focus on, we’ll realize where we’re most committed. That is, if we spend more than 14 hours working, we are probably more committed to our career than to our family. If we dedicate time doing sports daily and taking care of our diet, we’ll be committed to taking care of ourself. If we ask for a temporary leave after the birth of our child, we’ll be more committed to raising the baby than to our professional career.
Commitment involves choosing one thing over another and giving others up. Here, it’s important to know what my objective is and to measure my degree of commitment. The interesting thing is to ask ourselves what we’re committed to in each situation, set a goal and implement the actions to achieve it.
Another point to consider is to identify the emotion that is generated when a person or a team is committed to their goal. If we read the domains of performance in coaching such as language, body and emotion, we can identify when a person is committed to his goal or not.
For example, if we look at their language we can find words such as: “I want”, “I am going to”, “I am committed”, “it fills me with enthusiasm”, “it is what I like”, “I enjoy”, “right now” . If we appreciate a person’s corporality, we’ll be able to observe certain types of behaviors like: the eyes lighting up, an open expression of the face, trunk and shoulders expanded and a firmer and safer step. If we perceive the person’s emotion, we find emotions, such as: enthusiasm, ambition, improvement, optimism and confidence.
The level of commitment is evident both individually and collectively. Sports fans often read this type of behavior on their team, measuring their degree of commitment when they step on the pitch. To illustrate this more clearly, let’s consider the opposite of commitment, obligation.
On the other hand, paradoxically, we can live a commitment from an obligation. This can happen when we have a priori committed ourselves to someone or something and we’re not going to be able to fulfil it or the fact of fulfilling it can cause us major complications. In this case, if we follow the commitment it can become an obligation. And if we break it, we’ve breached our commitment. So what do we do?
In coaching, we hold the belief that a commitment can be renegotiated and even broken, a person has the flexibility and the choice to say what to do at any moment. It’s important to note that if a person is continually renegotiating and breaking their commitments, their public image may be adversely affected and this may affect their credibility. However, once the benefits and risks are weighed, it’s important to feel free when deciding whether to follow through on a commitment, renegotiate it, or break it. It’s in our hands to either relate from the commitment or from the obligation.
In a coaching process, the client commits himself to what he wants to achieve, and the coach checks his degree of commitment and whether the actions and behaviors are aligned with the achievement of the objective. Being committed to a goal means having made a free choice and identifying both the benefits, the cost and the effort that such a choice entails.
Ultimately, the commitment has the power that each of us freely decides the goal we want in our lives, that we position ourselves from where we want to live it, that we act or not in accordance with that goal. And that we ask ourselves: from what emotion do we want to feel it? With what attitude? and with what language?
Examples of associated beliefs and judgments:
- Obligation. Those phrases that begin with:
• “I have to …”.
“It is my obligation …”
“There are things that have to be done even if you don’t like them …”
“If there’s no choice…”.
• “I can’t break a commitment.”