I’ve worked with young people for a very long time, and there’s something significant that has changed over the last ten years or so. Okay, there’s a lot that has changed.
One thing, though, that stands out for me as I work with young people around the country is the way we view commitment. For people “of a certain age”, shall we say, commitment is an act. It’s what happens after you say the words that commit you.
Now, though, if someone says to you, “I’ll definitely be there”, you can believe it when you see the whites of their eyes. If they say, “Yeah, I’ll try to make it, for sure”, you know they’re not coming.
Commitment is the following through, the completion of whatever was promised. If one commits to attending an event, the commitment is carried out in the actual attendance.
That, my friends, has changed. For many, many people, commitment is in the words, not the act. “I’ll be there” means, “Sure, I’ll be there…unless something better comes along, or unless I forget, or unless I don’t feel like it, or unless I think of something else.”
See what I mean? Well, excuse me, but that’s not commitment. Words are the opening act, not the closing curtain.
My worry is that too many people, especially young people, can’t tell the difference. They utter the words, and then congratulate themselves for having committed. Not following through is a completely separate event.
It’s rampant in our culture, isn’t it? As I travel the country, one of the most common complaints I hear about younger workers is their approach to commitment.
I’m not sure exactly what caused this change to take place, but it’s easy to change.
Just do what you say you’ll do.