the true key to success: the courage to commit

“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.” — W. H. Murray


verb (used with object)
1. to give in trust or charge; consign.
2. to consign for preservation: to commit ideas to writing;
3. to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question; express (one’s intention, feeling, etc.): bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge: to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action. entrust, especially for safekeeping;


Commitment? What’s that?

If you want to see your life change, you’ve got to commit.

Important point: I define commitment as the decision to show up fully and consistently while seeing things to their logical or necessary conclusion.

We live in a society where it’s become easier than ever to wiggle out of things. It can get confusing to sort this out–you don’t want to adhere to the rigid notions of commitment that your grandparents might have stuck to, turning your life into a sea of joyless obligation, yet you also understand that when you quit on something before it’s time, you miss out.

Commitment is not “forever” unless that’s the life cycle of the thing you’re committing to. You get to set the terms, but part of setting the terms for when something should end means understanding that there are consequences–things you miss out on–when you walk away too soon. Part of commitment is accepting responsibility for the consequences.

Commitment is the decision to show up fully and consistently until it’s time to expire.

Your commitment to something is being practiced when you are basically, most of the time, more often than not, consistent in walking your talk.

And, of course, no one is perfect. Certainly, I’m not. But basically, most of the time, more often than not, I am consistent in practicing my commitments, whether it’s a relationship, my business, or personal growth.

Another way to describe commitment in action? You do not start stuff, not really show up fully, and then just stop.

A Few Examples

If you want the business to work:

Lackluster and inconsistent = not fully committed. There is no magic bullet out there for starting a business; you can stop buying more and more programs and workshops. Everything that I share in The Coaching Blueprint has been time and experience-tested as effective for myself and other coaches, but none of the business wisdom in that program would work if someone isn’t committed to applying it.

Note: commitment is a particularly important thing for coaches to address within themselves, because much of what you’ll be helping clients with is how they commit to themselves, the things that are important to them, to the people around them, to shifting internal belief systems that cause suffering, etc.

While no life coach is perfect, I do think that we need to be committed to walking our talk in our own lives.

Turning it around: Whatever marketing newsletters you’re subscribed to, actually make time to read them each week and apply what they share. Whatever programs you’ve already purchased, finish them. If you signed up for an e-course or group coaching workshop and didn’t listen to all the calls or complete all the exercises, go back and finish them. Create standards for completion before you take on anything new.


If you want your relationship to work:

Lackluster and inconsistent = not fully committed. There is, of course, another person involved in this, but speaking from personal experience, the greatest challenge of shifting a relationship is keeping the focus on my own crap and all the places where one moment of being triggered makes me want to completely backslide on any change I’ve promised to make.

Also–couples therapy? A must. I’ve read that most couples quit before they’ve had five sessions. Consider that you’re coming into the relationship with your entire history of patterns, and he/she is coming into the relationship with the same thing. Is it really reasonable to expect change in an intimate relationship in fewer than five couples counseling sessions? For most people, that’s five weeks. In other words, just barely over a month…to shift years of patterns created by two people.

Turning it around: Commit to shifting the relationship in a positive direction, rather than trying to change the person. Show up basically, most of the time, more often than not, more or less consistently with a true desire to change and put into practice any insight for change that comes your way.


If you want to make a personal-growth or self-help change–like getting more present, prioritizing what really matters most, not being so negative, attracting more friends?

Lackluster and inconsistent = not fully committed. Whatever program you’re on, commit all the way.

  • If zen meditation is your deal, then commit all the way.
  • If you can’t get enough of Eckhart Tolle, then commit to that path all of the way.
  • If Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions was a revelation for you, then go back, re-read it twice, finish every last worksheet–commit all of the way.
  • If you’ve resonated with everything I’ve ever said on this website, then there’s an entire program behind it (just be sure to commit all the way).
  • If there’s a social justice activist whose work inspires you, commit all the way.
  • If Jesus or The Buddha are your homeboys, if the diving feminine resonates all the way through your chakras, then commit all the way.

Again–commitment is not about perfectionism. Commitment might not even be about “forever.” You define what commitment “is.” The social justice activist might inspire you to commit all the way in helping her raise money for a political initiative–not necessarily joining her by getting your Master’s in Social Work. You need not lay down your life for Eckhart Tolle and build an ashram in his name–just commit to truly understanding the principles that he teaches and apply them in your own life (basically, consistently, most of the time, more often than not).

It is about saying to yourself: “For the duration of this program/for the next year/until I’ve explored this deeply and thoroughly, I’ll consistently show up and I will basically, most of the time, more often than not, put into practice the things that I learn.”

That’s it.

Commitment is courageous. It’s tough, but it’s your proudest shining moment when you look back and realize the journey you’ve traversed. If you want to know how to have all the success you’ve ever dreamed of, there’s one word: commit. That’s courage, in action.

Redefining security

I met a nurse who had recently moved to San Francisco. I asked where she worked, and she said that she was still looking. There were few nursing jobs available.

This got me to thinking about “security.”

Ten years ago, I remember hearing a lot about the “nursing shortage.” Efforts were made to entice people into the profession. Now, apparently, there’s such a glut of nurses that getting a job is competitive, and you’re likely to be relegated to nothing but night shifts for at least the first year, until you move up in the ranks and have more seniority in choosing your schedule (at which point, another nurse comes in for a year of sleepless nights).

The real estate market used to be the bastion of job security–after all, everyone needs a house. No one foresaw the bubble of predatory lending and easy credit bursting (except, I guess, a friend of mine who religiously reads The Economist and who told me that it was going to happen about two years before it did).

Getting a tenure-track job at a college with union benefits is typically seen as the type of air-tight job that you can count on until you’re ready to retire. Of course, everyone forgets that if the college goes bankrupt or loses its accreditation and is taken over by the state, which is happening to a number of California community colleges right now, that all bets are off.

It happens in relationships, too–if you find the right person, work at your marriage, go to couples therapy, and religiously observe date nights, the relationship will hold together…right? Nope. People leave for any number of reasons (including unexpected and sudden death).

It happens with our health. I’ve heard of vegan Ironman triathletes who get breast cancer. Yoga devotees who are the calmest, most relaxed (and, of course, bendy) people you know–and they have a stroke.

Clinging to Security

It’s easy to fall into the trap of clinging to security. It’s what we’re fed: if you just follow the right steps, you’ll get the results you want. It feeds a culture of shame and blame (those people over there? The ones who must be *so* different than you or me because they struggle with addiction, or they’re homeless, or their marriages broke up? They must not have done the “right things”).

But what happens when you do all of the right things, and then there’s *still* the health crisis, the financial crisis, the natural disaster, the marriage that crumbles under the weight of a thousand invisible cracks?

What skills do you have, then, when you’ve spent a lifetime clinging to security?

At the basis of my work, especially with The Courageous Living Program, is this: I want people to learn how to totally trust themselves. That’s where someone arises on the other side of fear, when they’re consistently practicing courage.

I want people to experience life wholeheartedly, living 100% fully alive, and that includes understanding that hey–no bullshit, here–there are going to be challenges.

When those challenges arise, it’s my hope that people totally trust themselves and their capability to handle what arises. Having that sort of capacity is a skill-set that anyone can learn, develop, and master. It’s gorgeous to see it in action.

Of course, you can’t even start…unless and until you release that clinging grip.

But…What’s Next?

Often, we hesitate to release the grip because we don’t know what’s next. “The devil you do know is better than the one you don’t,” is how the saying goes.

Here’s the thing: no one *ever* knows what’s next.

Roger that? NO ONE EVER knows for sure, what’s coming. This means that all of the clinging, attached, stressed-out planning to try to orchestrate everything to go the right way in order to have security? Pointless.

It’s not that security is “bad.” I like feeling secure, and I prepare for a foreseeable future.

It’s moreso that it just doesn’t work to place our sense of security in the stuff “out there.” The jobs? The relationship? Glowing, vibrant health? If those things form the basis of your “security,” then as soon as they shift or change (which is inevitable) then the structure you’ve built a foundation on is going to be exposed as sand.

We’re stronger and more powerful when we redefine security as being secure in ourselves.

Secure in being the wellspring of our own happiness.
Secure in our capacity to make, and recover from, mistakes.
Secure in releasing attachments to what others do or think of us.
Secure in choosing what feels right.
Secure in creating relationships and communities–creating love.

Question what you call “security.” Your house? Your job? Your identity as a mother, a provider, so-and-so’s lover, a CEO?

Be grateful for all of it–treasure it! celebrate it!–while keeping the focus on the kind of security that only you can create: the security of completely trusting yourself.

the proof that your big dream is actually possible

I was at a party, recently. At this party, collectively, there was a best-selling author. Someone else had just inked a book deal. A few someones were pregnant. Someone else lead a sold-out mastermind. Someone else had major speaking gigs. Someone else had had their work featured on the Oprah website. Someone else had just had their website redone. Several someones were leading sold-out workshops.

I was looking around, sipping my wine, taking it all in: “WOW. Wow, wow, wow. Look at all the amazing stuff these people are up to. Wow, wow, wow. These people are exactly what the world needs, and I’m so crazy excited for everything they’re bringing to it.

I felt lifted up and inspired by the fact that I was in a room full of women who were bringing the best of themselves to all parts of their lives.

Let me repeat that: they are bringing the best of themselves, to all parts of their lives.

Then it hit me what a long road I’ve traveled, to be in a room like this and…to not compare. To not feel less-than. To be more focused on the awe-inspiring fact of what all of these women are creating, than on comparing my own success or wishing I had more.

Here’s the thing: there is a shift that you can undertake, and it starts with realizing that everyone who has all of the elements of life that you wish to have, is not taking something away from you. There’s not less for you, because they have theirs.

They are the proof that it can be done.

Understanding that, is the difference between being in a room full of women who have done things that I haven’t done and celebrating them, versus being in that room and feeling cut off from them.

Jealousy is worth listening to. It gets a bad rap. It’s a sign of desires that are crying out to be unearthed.

It’s also really beautiful to look around and see the places where all these years of practicing courage are actually adding up to something really beneficial: not needing to be better, not needing to be more, not needing to be admired, and certainly not needing to compete.

Sometimes, when you’re feeling particularly frightened and success feels particularly long in coming, it can be easy to get resentful or dismissive of people who remind you that the world is an abundant place.

But it is. Everyone at this party started out with the same bare bones ingredients: a big dream, a helluva lot of passion, a shit-ton of fear, and the willingness to practice courage.

Someone else’s success isn’t taking anything away from you, because the world is abundant and the opportunities for you are infinite.

In fact, the success of others is a contribution to you. It paves the way. It’s proof that everything you ever wanted actually is possible.

Next time you notice jealousy arising, celebrate it. Celebrate your desire. Celebrate the other person and their accomplishments. Have another sip of wine, and bask in living in a world that is so full of so many people who have so much love to offer.