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Here is an excerpt from Lee’s latest book, Leadership Matters. It contains 31 daily insights to inspire extraordinary results.

day 5: Commitment

Whether it’s helping a friend through a tough time, coaching a Little League team, working on a critical project or rebuilding a relationship, giving our best always gets the best results.

The moment we totally commit ourselves and begin giving 100 percent, a certain momentum develops. People naturally gravitate to those who are fully committed and start working in the same direction. Total commitment results in a certain, magical boldness – a boldness that has magnetism and power.

Andrew Carnegie said, “The average person puts only 25 percent of his energy and ability into his work. The world takes off its hat to those who put in more than 50 percent of their capacity and stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote 100 percent.” We compete against our own potential every day.

I personally experienced the power of 100 percent commitment (and lack thereof!) when I wrestled with publishing my first book for two years. I was consulting and writing leadership articles, and so I thought it might also be time to write a book. I went through all the motions, from working with agents to sending proposals to writers’ conferences, but I never seemed to turn the corner from aspiring writer to a published author. There always seemed to be an obstacle, although I now realize it was a result of my less-than-full commitment to my goal.

One obstacle after another … two years and counting. Then one day, I was at a client’s office when I saw a big box filled with practical handbooks sitting on a desk. I quickly flipped through one of them and jotted down the publisher’s name as I said to myself, “I can do this!” That was my defining moment of commitment. That commitment turned into action, and with the incredibly gracious support of the publisher, I had my first book in print six months later. I was able to envision possibilities that I could only see through fully committed eyes.

Our commitment to our teams can have the same transforming effect. Committed leadership inspires committed teams. During one of the most challenging times in history for the airline industry, for example, Southwest Airlines’ team voluntarily forfeited $5 million in vacation time and $1 million in pay to help the company stay financially viable. Team members also took over the lawn and facility maintenance at corporate headquarters. These teams were simply reflecting a deep commitment – personal and professional – they felt from their leadership. When we lead with 100 percent commitment, this is the kind of commitment we can inspire in return.

Even with 100 percent commitment, however, leadership is not always a smooth flight. If we want to pilot our teams to higher levels, we have to understand we can’t just kick back in a comfy first-class seat. Now we have responsibility for not only ourselves but also for the safety and success of our teams. They are depending on us to set a good course, keep them posted on our progress and make smart decisions.

Jumping into the pilot’s seat brings many more responsibilities than privileges. But those who are defined by their 100 percent commitment reap the rewards of flying high above the rest.

I am continually amazed at the difference between 99 percent and 100 percent commitment. Consider a hot pot of water that is at 211 degrees Fahrenheit. Just one degree hotter and that water hits the boiling point of 212 degrees. Boiling water creates steam and steam can power a huge locomotive. So, that one degree makes the difference between a simple pot of hot water and a real driving force. That one degree of commitment can make an equivalent difference for you and your team.

Action Questions:

1. To which project or task do I need to boost my commitment to 100 percent before I can expect better results?

2. To which relationship do I need to give my full commitment to inspire extraordinary results?

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” – Peter Drucker

Copyright © 2012 by Lee J. Colan and The L Group, Inc.