Today, we have an abundance of choices to pursue a basic education, on-the-job skills training, and traditional life skills like marriage, parenting, and household finance that are taught in various parts of our communities. In addition, via the internet, we have a global education system, many times free of charge, at our fingertips for any subject of interest.
The unlimited opportunity to gain direct access to training for any school subject, work skill, or critical life skill highlights two important realities:
- From a practical standpoint, we can teach people the best techniques to be functional at coding in C++, setting a family budget, playing guitar, driving a delivery truck, cooking a good steak, or even improving communication with our spouse J
- The vast majority of people can learn to be really great at something, if we make the choice. When we choose to make the effort, work through the disappointments, short-term failures, and the inevitable grind in the journey, we will develop the functional skill we seek.
As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, we need to be reminded of a necessary decision that is not routinely taught in the classroom, the workplace, and on the home front: Commitment. Making the decision to commit is a prerequisite for developing any new skill in life.
Psychologists would have a few fancy terms to describe the reality that most of us don’t commit to something until we have discovered that we can be good at it. If the technique or skill being taught seems interesting and we show some initial, marginal success at doing it, then maybe we will commit.
However, for most things in life, there is always the “honeymoon” period. Where the initial excitement of something new and different energizes us for some time and then the subject gets difficult. We spend one too many all-nighters studying for exams and still do not pass. We work hard and give it our best in the workplace and the promotion seems to never come our way. In the home, the strain of bills, schedules, and bad habits marches us into that valley of loneliness even while we still share the same bed with our spouse.
During the difficult times, when the energy surrounding new and different fades away, the necessary decision of commitment is exposed. It is the decision to commit that carries us through the journey to learn a new language, to develop a new skill at work, and to build empathy and understanding with those closest to us.
We could all benefit from an honest, self-assessment every once in a while, on the necessary decision of commitment. Unlike some classes in school, this assessment is not graded on a curve by comparing our commitment to that seen in others. We stand on our own with this grade.
When we set the bar high on our own level of commitment, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to learn new skills and reach our potential in the key areas of life.