You have seen a few of our Mailers speak to the topic of commitment. By looking at past issues, you may see that we often state that we fit into one of three categories. Either we are committed, compliant or complacent. Others have suggested that we add a fourth category – complaining.
Chuck Petruska, one of the Senior HR Advisors for McKenzieHR was inspired by a story he saw recently on the news in which Claire Markwardt, a cross country runner from Berkshire High School in Ohio, made the ultimate commitment by crawling on her hands and knees after breaking her fibula 45 feet short of the finish line. Her reasoning, "I had come so far. Our team had come so far. . . . I was almost done, and there was no way I was going to let the team down." As it turns out, if the 17 year old young woman had not done this, her team would not have placed fourth in the state championship. Additionally, this was the last event she would participate in with her high school career and she was determined to finish at all costs. Read the story -
This event brought back some memories of a similar event Chuck witnessed over 20 years ago where another cross country runner made the ultimate commitment to the team. In this case, he saw a young 14 year old woman compete in the Florida State Championship in 1987 who, throughout the race, winced and screamed in pain. Her father was obviously concerned about his daughter’s well being and continually encouraged her to stop running. The young lady continually gave her father determined, disapproving and sometimes angry glares, but continued the race. She finished the race and upon crossing the finish line, she fell into her father’s arms. Both father and daughter sobbed uncontrollably. The father’s were tears of pride. The young woman’s were the result of the pain.
It was during this event that Saturday that Chuck learned a life-long lesson about commitment. Chuck came to the realization that commitment included a number of personal characteristics.
Sharpen the Saw
One of Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People is “Sharpen the Saw.” In the athletic world it is continually staying in shape, practicing and increasing one’s skills and improving their value to the team. In the business world it means constantly working to maintain the highest level of knowledge and skills needed to keep ahead of the competition. It means studying, self development and improving working relationships with co-workers. Ask yourself these questions. How often do you “test” yourself at work? Are you as skilled as you could be? Do you study daily to improve your value to your team?
Persistence, Professionalism and Pride
Everything doesn’t always go right. All athletes have slumps or bad days. They also know there are times when they are in “the zone” when everything turns to gold. They know to shrug off the bad days and keep going. Did you ever have tough days? Plans you had made days or weeks ago suddenly fall apart. Everything becomes an emergency and work must be completed yesterday. Most of us take a deep breath and continue working. …right? Persistence is a key to success. Despite people telling us to slow down, we know that the work has to get done. We take that breath, think about the next steps and push-on.
Sometimes the stress as well as the number of hours is almost overwhelming. Often times we want to throw in the towel and give up. “That’s it. I quit!” Then we think about the mortgage, loans, car payments and eating. Quitting is easy. So, why don’t we quit? Is it because your persistence, professionalism, pride get in the way? Is it because the team is counting on you?
It’s Monday morning. You worked all weekend to finish the project. A Herculean effort on your part. You enter the meeting to a standing ovation and a cheering crowd – just like the athletes who went beyond normal human limits to complete the race. This is probably not the case. More than likely, it’s an hour of nit-picking. Unfortunately in the working world, some of the rewards you receive must be intrinsic. If you can look in the mirror with a sense of self-respect and self-esteem on your accomplishments, then you have passed the persistence, professionalism and pride test.
The Rest of the Story
Twenty years ago, When her coach asked the young woman how she was able to keep running, she explained, “When we had our team meeting back in September, you asked us to make a commitment to each other - to never quit. I love my teammates. I couldn’t quit.” By the way, Chuck remembers so many details from this event 20 years ago because the 14-yr old freshman who taught him this indelible lesson on commitment is his daughter, Leandra.
Whether you love your job, your company or your co-workers is immaterial. What is important is giving it your all, as Claire Markwardt and Leandra Petruska did. How committed are you to your company, its Mission and your profession? Which category are you in? Are you committed, compliant, complacent… or complaining?
Chuck Petruska, SPHR is a Senior Human Resources Advisor with McKenzieHR. He has a wealth of overall human resources management experience gained from his more than 30 years of experience in the field. Chuck is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and is also one of the best stand-up trainers in the area. Chuck has a lifetime designation as a Senior Professional of Human Resources.
Special thanks to Chuck for his inspiration for this article.