Part 5 - Committing to the Obvious
So! Where were we? Oh Yeah... Performance Zones...
My company has an interesting statement at the beginning of one
of our web pages (http://www.coach.net/expect.htm) regarding
what we expect from our clients. It starts out by saying, “First
and foremost they must have the zeal for what they want to
accomplish equal to that of a man with his hair on fire for a
bucket of water.” We figure if a person starts out with that kind
of zeal, our task is merely to assist in directing it to assure they don’t
have to wait around feeling the heat while getting burned up. With this
kind of zeal, people’s commitments are never in question.
There’s an interesting article I read some time back about people
making commitments in general. Seems the study came up with
some data that when reviewed carefully showed some sobering
yet startling correlations to current conditions in business and our
society - Correlations that an entrepreneur could capitalize on very
The study showed nothing that was of great revelation to a
common sense thinker. Yet to some, the study was nothing more
than a revelation. It showed that there was a tendency in people
who made commitments on a regular basis to honor them in a
specific order of priorities. On the downside, those commitments
made toward events, situations and people that had the least
amount of authority and impact on the person who made the
commitment were least likely to be honored. And as you might
have concluded, the upside showed the opposite was also true for
those situations, events and people that had the greatest amount of
authority and impact on the person making the commitment.
Unless there was something on the line that impacted the person
making the commitment, it just was not going to be placed in the
The conclusion that the article’s writers came to was “if you wish
to assure you honor your commitments and have follow thru,
assure that you make it in such a way as to know that if you did
not honor it, the ramifications for non follow thru would be
absolutely intolerable and unacceptable.” (That old saying comes
into mind here about people being motivated most by fear and
greed.) And you guessed it right if you know where this is leading.
But before we explore what you might have guessed, let me share
a few tidbits of my own history on this topic...
I can understand how this works from first hand experience. For
years I struggled with a most effective tool used by other
professional coaches used to allow for a more effective
interaction with their client base. It’s called, “Personality
Profiling”and I knew that once I had mastered it, I would be able
to use the tool very effectively in my service offerings. The only
trouble is I would not make a firm commitment to learn the tool
and every time I picked up the training material, I would find
another distraction to focus on.
Now I’ve learned a bit as a coach and as a person who is also
coached. I know all about making commitments and yet with all
this great “know-how” inventory between my ears, I could not
for the life of me get that commitment to learn profiling. I was
stuck and I couldn’t get any traction on it.
So I put some of that old brain matter to work. I figured the one
thing that motivates this old carcass most is “sink or swim”
situations. So I came up with something I call the “burnt boat
I read some place that there was a leader thousands of years ago
who used to deliver his army to a shore via boat. Once arriving at
the shoreline, he would get up on the nearest hill to let the army
know what was expected of them. The speech had all the neat
motivational stuff in it to create a foundation of love of God,
country and such. The usual great stuff motivators use to incite
fervor. The kicker that really got the group moving though was
the part about the boats that brought them there being summarily
burned and there being no way to retreat. Hence they had a
choice to either conquer the land and it’s people or be conquered.
Talk about groups getting inspired...
Putting this “clause” into effect for myself required me to take
action to put myself in a situation that required an attitude of
“failure was not an option.” This required deadlines, outcomes
and a commitment outside myself to deliver on something that in
part required my knowing this material forward AND backward.
So I did the only sane thing a sane person in my situation would
do. I called a local learning institution that I new needed a course on
personality profiling and offered to teach a course on it. With my
background, they eagerly accepted and I had a mere two months to become an
expert. And that is exactly what I did. (For those wanting a definition
of an ‘expert’, try this one - “ex” is an unknown, “(s)pert” is a drip
under pressure. You put it together...)
Within a very short time frame that “burnt boat clause” I set up
worked miracles. I had all the motivation that was needed to get
the gears moving. All of a sudden I found nothing could distract
me from my intended goal. I had all the key elements required. I
had people depending on me for a top notch training. There were
the students, the institution, the owner of the school (none of
whom I was going to allow to see me in a poor light), material that
was required to review and a deadline that was immovable. The
stress was GLORIOUS! And in my humble opinion, I shone
brilliantly as a result.
Hearing this story at one of my “coach’s workouts” on goal-
setting, a person signed up with me on the spot for a solid six
month coaching season, paid the fees in advance for the entire
season and handed me their signed resignation which they wanted
to go to their boss by the third month into our coaching. They said if
they did not give this resignation to someone they could trust to deliver
it, they might not take action to assure they had another job by then.
Talk about a burnt boat clause!
So let’s get into what you might have guessed...
CAPITALIZING ON A THEME: What must you put into place
to assure success? What do your “Burnt Boat Clauses” look
like? Are they worthy of your effort to put them together? What
results do they produce? How many times have you been
“conquered” because the motivation to succeed did not out do the
obstacles perceived? How many ‘shores’ have you landed on
and were able to retreat because you were not committed to
succeed there? What system do you have in place to bring about
consistent action in the direction of desired results? Who do you
commit to OUTSIDE yourself that guarantees you will follow
thru? (Don’t just read these questions, respond to them!)
If you’re not one to follow thru on your commitments, particularly
when they impact 1) your success time frames; 2) people who
depend on you; and most of all 3) you and your business, you
have no right to expect success by design... Or to expect the
same from others!
So, if you're truly boss, are your systems in place to assure
Have a bodacious week!
Coach John S. Nagy is CEO and Lead Business Coach for Coaching for Success. Inc., a Business Coaching Service specifically designed for top level decision makers dedicated to peak performance in all facets of their activities. He’s hired to focus them continuously in activities that bring higher returns on their resource use. His programs are for the seriously committed. This means having his clients work "ON" their businesses, not just "IN" it. He’s a published author and a multi-degree professional with a nationwide client base. Coach Nagy can be reached through his E-mail address at his website at http://www.coach.net and by calling 813-949-0718.
Copyright © 2000 John S. Nagy