words by Tim O’Connor
In thinking about our societal problem with commitment, I’m reminded of a poignant episode of that paragon of social commentary, The Flintstones.
In Season Two in 1962, Arnold the newsboy challenges Fred to a marbles game, re-igniting Fred’s gambling compulsion, sending him into a hypnotic, stuttering trance, ‘B-b-b-bet-bet!”
Generally speaking, if I ask most people about their commitments, it’s such a loaded and scary word that they can barely say it, “C-c-c-com-com-mit-mitment!”
Oh man, who wants to commit? It’s so… so… definite. It means I have to do something. And keep doing it. And what if I don’t like it?
Well, without commitment nothing happens, not much anyway, and things stop happening. Things get done—like business projects, home renovations, for example, or we lose weight—when we commit. Relationships improve when we commit.
It also helps get homework done.
(For more on commitment, check out Show #35 of the Swing Thoughts podcast with me and Howard Glassman.)
I was recently working with a college golfer on a U.S. scholarship, and he was giving me some feedback on how committing to shots in his pre-shot routine had improved his shot-making. Namely, once he determined the best shot for the situation—including the club, trajectory, target and shot shape—he got down to business fairly briskly and hit the shot.
He still hit some poor shots, as every golfer does, but when he committed to his shots, the results were usually pretty good—certainly much better than when he hit shots in doubt or tentatively.
Our session was winding down when he mentioned that he was getting behind in his homework. Each evening, he’d intend to get to work but most of the time he didn’t, rationalizing that he was too tired or he earned the night off.
I asked him if he thought he could sit at his desk for just 10 minutes a night. “Easy,” he said.
“Beauty, then commit to that,” I said.
“OK. I commit to sitting at my desk for 10 minutes every night at the same time for seven nights.”
I congratulated him on taking me up. I noted that although he had made this commitment to me, more importantly, he had made this commitment to himself.
A week later, as we agreed, I checked in with him. He enthusiastically reported that he had lived up to his commitment. It felt great, he said, and it was much easier than he thought. And he had increased his commitment to 30 minutes a night.
He added that voicing the commitment to me and to himself had somehow made it far easier to keep.
That is the beauty of the commitment. When you make a pact with yourself, you don’t want to let yourself down. There’s a firmer sense of resolve, purpose and dedication. There is less room for doubt.
(There’s a lot more to commitment, which I’ll explore in future blogs, but this gets the ball rolling.)
You might argue that 10 minutes wasn’t a big stretch, but it was an improvement over zero minutes. He got a win. That was the intention. And when you savour the good feeling of living up to an initial commitment, you can make new commitments.
This reminds me: After the Flintstones and Rubbles leave the movie in the closing credits of every show, how does Fred eat that giant rack of ribs at the drive-in?
Well, after they tipped the car back up, I’ll b-b-bet he ate it one bite at a time.
You can look it up here. Well, the tipping over part.
Tim O’Connor is a writer and Performance Coach at the ClubLink Academy at Glen Abbey in Oakville, Ontario, and co-host of the Swing Thoughts podcast available on iTunes. His blog is www.oconnorgolf.ca and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @timoconnorcoach on Twitter.