Movement through Commitment

Screenshot 2023-12-10 at 6.22.46 PM

When I think of commitment, the elephant comes to mind. I grew up in Sri Lanka where elephants were a part of our daily lives. Elephants are tenacious mammals who develop strong social bonds and tend to stay with their herd for life. 

To create movement that furthers a vision, a set of goals, and so on, people must be and stay committed, often for the long term. The metaphor of the elephant might lend some inspiration on how to nurture commitment for movement. 

In the practice of leadership, there are proven ways to not only create commitment, but also to strengthen and sustain it. I do NOT mean to suggest that commitment in organizations can be achieved through brute force. In fact, the elephant as a metaphor for commitment has nothing to do with its massive size. To the contrary: Just as elephants are quite gentle creatures—who rarely become protective or defensive unless they feel threatened or perceive danger—commitment is often successfully created through peace and calm. Ironically, it can be eroded by brute force or scare tactics. 

For all you fast-moving businesspeople reading this: Yes, I said peace and calm are key ingredients for commitment. That might sound contradictory to the frenetic ‘swirl’ you may experience in your work. Peace and calm begin with inspiration – specifically, the word inspiration is derived from the Latin word inspirare, meaning “to breathe into.” Breathing is fundamental for life, and breathing is critical for organizations made up of humans doing work. 

The process of breathing facilitates mental clarity, heightens awareness, and channels creative energy. Like an elephant’s sophisticated respiratory system through its trunk—which allows it to inhale large quantities of the air required given the energy demands of its body—organizations and people with big, ambitious visions and goals need lots of air to succeed and sustain for the long haul. 

If you happen to be driving yourself, others, and/or your organization at such a pace that people cannot quite catch a breath, you are likely jeopardizing commitment, movement, and progress towards what you want to achieve. 

Leadership is often something we don’t think about consciously…not unlike breathing unless you run out of breath. When you allow time to breathe and fuel your respiration system, you accelerate clarity, channel energy where you need it, and inspire commitment towards the very places you want to effect movement. 

This Week: Breathe…inspire others. That is all…for now. 

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  1. Doug Brady on December 12, 2023 at 9:44 am

    Nice Jen.
    Breathing for success. I like it.

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