• Keeping promises while facing challenges or the temptation of an easier path
  • Seeing something through to the end and keeping the right attitude about it
  • Honoring my responsibilities with diligence, even when it requires sacrifice
It is Thursday morning. It is roughly 19 degrees outside and doesn’t feel much warmer than that at my desk. It is the middle of the filing window and every morning I expect some kind of fresh hell exciting new adventures waiting in my inbox.

And today was no different, “Nick, where is the commitment article?” 

It was a weird moment of not knowing what they were talking about and simultaneously knowing exactly what they were talking about. This wasn’t on my calendar, and surely, I wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to do something that took me outside of my daily routine. But I also knew that somewhere, buried in a folder-in-a-folder-in-a-folder, there was a spreadsheet with the topic and due date, and that my name was likely beside the commitment article due today.

So, I knew that I had made a commitment (or at least, someone committed me to doing this) and that I needed to get it done. And while I would like to say that I immediately put on a happy face and chipper attitude and just began type-type-typing away, I didn’t. I had to deal with the points of this Guidemark – avoiding the temptation of an easier path, keeping the right attitude, and honoring my responsibilities.
Temptation of an easier path
I had a professor in grad school that said the easiest way to get published is to revisit an older study and see if it’s findings still hold true today. I’m sure there is a little more to it than that (if they were even being serious to begin with), but the idea has always stuck with me. So, I was tempted to simply go to TED Talks or LinkedIn and repurpose a speaker’s thesis in my own words - add some funny quips or something about board games per the norm - and drop it into a hot-take commentary. Visit the ol’ University of Google and call it good. But, I didn’t have time to sit through a presentation and didn’t want to risk contracting a debilitating brain condition by slopping through the mire of Buzzfeed, Thought Catalogue, Reddit, etc. 

But let’s pretend I did have the time to sit through a TED Talk or sift through a bloated, self-absorbed LinkedIn article, or was willing to sacrifice IQ points, and visit one of the aforementioned journalistic abomination websites. Even then I couldn’t have pulled off this switch-a-roo: 

1) Intellectual theft is wrong. Period. Full stop. 

2) TED Talks and LinkedIn incentivize new ideas, and new ideas are good, but by the time you try to implement whatever cool new idea, there’s already a new one (remember when business wanted employees to work like they were in a fish market?). Relying on the new hotness for direction is akin to the gray hound chasing the rabbit at the track – no matter how fast you go, you’ll never catch it. By the time you read this, it would be moving towards obsolete, as very few are actually “timeless”. 

3) It would be lazy. I (or someone on my behalf) made a commitment to do this. For whatever reason, they want to know what I wanted to say – not some social scientist, or a LinkedIn author that makes their daily tasks sound like they require a PhD in astrophysics (that is, unless they are an astrophysicist), or whatever Top 5 drivel – but me. My thoughts. 

And we face the temptation (not necessarily intellectual theft, per se) of taking easier paths throughout our daily lives. We may even try to mask taking the easy way as making something more efficient and then writing a 10,000-word tome to post on LinkedIn and get those sweet, sweet thumbs-up, or a Top 10 Life Hacks article (and no, the irony of railing against bloated LinkedIn articles and the length of this commentary is not lost on me). But is the easier path more efficient, or is it just easier? Are we producing the same quality quicker, or is it suffering in the process? Are we making things easier, or are we just being lazy? 

Keep a discerning eye when you reach the proverbial fork in the road that offers an easier path. 

Keeping the right attitude
After deciding that this would be mine, and mine alone, I wrote the following “article”.
Instead of writing about commitment, I am demonstrating it by being committed to my clients and work. 
I was about to hit send. 

I could defend this – it was metaphysical, it was avant-garde, it was a commentary on commentary. 

But, in reality, it was lazy and rather than being any type of in-your-face-avant-garde-commentary-on-commentary, it was actually just overly-hyphenated snark.

It didn’t have the right attitude behind it. 

Now, I don’t think I have reached a place at FFL where I can get away with this kind of snark, but even if I could, should I?

It would be true

After having to defend it, it wouldn’t simply be taking the easy way out

It would probably produce more meaningful long-term results for me by freeing up time to do work

But what would you as the reader get out of my one-sentence angst? Nothing. 

My one-sentence response would have maybe met half of the conditions that I needed to. And when you only meet half of the goal, you meet none of the goal. My attitude restricted my ability to produce an end-product that I committed to producing. And so, I never hit the send button. 

Life throws us curve balls, and lemons, and 19-degree mornings, and unexpected tasks. But as professionals, we can’t let these factors devalue the quality of our work. We roll with the punches, we make lemonade, we Google idioms to make a list, and we suck it up and do what needs to be done to honor our commitments.   

Honoring my responsibilities
After the temptation of just letting TED Talks direct my decisions passed, and I corrected my attitude, only then was I able to sit and put “pen to paper” and finish this. Finishing it without taking the easier (i.e. lazy) path or letting my attitude towards it prohibit the primary idea from being delivered, is what allowed me to honor my responsibilities in the end.  


I am about to hit send, and knowing that I met my commitment, and did so in a way that better reflects my abilities, attitude, and actions is something that I’ll be happy to put my name on. 

More importantly, this will be timeless. I should totally share it on LinkedIn, or at least turn it into a What Kind of Commitment Pitfall Are You? quiz. 

Key words and phrases
Sticking with it; Faithfulness; Worthy of trust; Diligent and reliable; Dedication to a pledge; Dependable Sacrifice to keep a promise; Taking ownership of a situation

Opposite terms
Not finishing the job; Undependable; Not worthy of trust; Wishy-washy

GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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