Involvement vs. Commitment

One thing I’ve learned from the people closest to me throughout my life is that genuine strength – the type of strength that has depth and durability – is developed through consistency of character during both good times and bad. It’s natural to experience discomfort or frustration and turn the other way. But the bravest, most successful people in the world are able to set their egos aside and find solutions to problems, allowing them to transcend any limitations that hold the rest of the world back.

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On a taxi ride from Lakewood Ranch to Tampa Bay a few months ago, I met an author named James A. Smith who told me about his encounters with the late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. I’ve never been much into self help talks, because I’ve always been able to draw motivation from the people and events around me, which seems like a more organic way to feel inspired. But Smith struck me as a passionate, intelligent guy who was worth listening to. He left me with a copy of his book, “I Was Born to Win”, which I promised to read.

Later that day, my flight to Boston was delayed, and as I was sorting out how I would get home, a man in his late 70s approached me and began making small talk. Every now and then the universe will throw you a serendipitous curveball, and this proved to be one of those moments. The man told me he had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer several years ago. As a last-ditch effort to find a cure, he went to a health clinic in California where he adopted a plant-based diet. And on this day, he stood before me vibrant, healthy, and full of life. If I ever needed confirmation that I was on the right path promoting plant-based eating, this was it.

The man and I chatted for a good half hour, and he went on to tell me that he had also been a runner when he was younger. He told me that with my frame, there was no reason I couldn’t achieve the lofty goals I’ve set for myself. And then, incredibly, he began talking about the same law of attraction principles Smith had been praising earlier that day.

Since that day, I’ve made an effort to explore Zig Ziglar’s life and read several books on positive living. And while I don’t see the “law of attraction” philosophies as a lifestyle like many people, I have learned a lot from listening to Ziglar.

The other day I was listening to a Ziglar interview that discussed the difference between involvement and commitment. When things get rocky, Ziglar said, people who are just “involved” look for a way out. Those who are truly committed, however, look for solutions.

Ideas this simple are often dangerous because they generalize people, feelings, and ideas without taking into account lifestyle variations. But often times, the most powerful, moving ideas in the world are profound because of their simplicity. Every one of us is different, but we’re all brought together by our choice in character. And every person I’ve ever respected has made a commitment to do something positive with their life.

Our generation, perhaps more than any other, subtly discourages commitment. Vegan diets are considered “extreme.” Bodybuilders are considered “freaks.” And the phrase “everything in moderation” seems to be celebrated in virtually every field.

But the most incredible things we can do in our short time here on earth require true commitment.

I’ve seen this from my parents and sister, whose commitment to their entire family has never wavered, even during dark moments where “involvement” would have been seen as acceptable.

I see this every day from my friends: Matt, who is going to medical school after spending his early and mid 20s taking countless post-collegiate courses; Auston, who, despite already holding a degree from one of the best film schools in the country in 2012, continues to seek new knowledge and skills in his field; Dave, who helps people through his job during by and improves himself through insane amounts of exercise by night; and Elliot, whose dream of becoming a comic illustrator has brought him to Savannah, where he’s working tirelessly towards his goals.

I see this from the vegan and plant-based communities, whose commitment to their own health, the environment, and the well-being of animals remains strong, even in the face of immense social opposition.

If you’re passionate about something, make the decision to commit to it wholeheartedly. By doing so, you’ll take the first step towards a type of strength that can withstand even the most difficult of obstacles.

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