This report is an excerpt from the book “7 Moments… That Define Excellent Leaders“.)

As we have all learned through some of life’s harder lessons – whether it’s helping a friend through a tough time, coaching a little league team or working on a critical project – 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 committed and start working in the same direction. Total commitment results in a certain, magical boldness – a boldness that has genius 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 over 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 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. In other words, the obstacles were in my head!

One obstacle after another…two years and counting. Then one day, I was at a client’s office. My defining moment of commitment came when I saw a big box filled with practical handbooks sitting on my client’s desk.

I quickly flipped through one of them and jotted down the publisher’s name as I said to myself, “I can do this!” My moment of commitment turned into action, and with the incredibly gracious support of the publisher, I had my first book in print six months later. My defining moment helped me envision possibilities that I could only see through fully committed eyes. All of a sudden, what used to be stumbling blocks now looked like stepping stones.

Our commitment to our teams can have the same transforming effect. Committed leadership inspires committed teams. For example, during the most challenging time in history for the airline industry, Southwest Airlines’ employees voluntarily forfeited $5 million in vacation time and $1 million in pay to help the company stay financially viable. Employees also took over the lawn and facility maintenance at corporate headquarters. These employees 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 to excellence we can inspire in return.

Did the rest of the airline industry really have different obstacles that did not enable them to remain profitable? Only the ones in their heads.

Even with 100 percent commitment, however, leadership is not always a smooth flight. If we want to pilot our teams to excellence, 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 our teams. Our teams 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 to excellence reap the rewards of flying high above the rest!

Commitment yourself to excellence! Take the Free 7 Moments Indicator.

Here’s to Excellence in all you do!

Copyright © 2007 by Lee J. Colan