Mackay: Commit yourself to success
Eugene Orowitz was a skinny, awkward kid from New Jersey. Painfully shy, very self-conscious and lacking self-confidence, when a high school coach half-jokingly asked him to try out for the track team, Eugene took him up on it, according to author Glenn Van Ekeren.
“Ugy,” as his friends affectionately called him, discovered a talent for javelin throwing and committed himself to being the best that he possibly could be. What Ugy lacked in self-confidence, he made up for in commitment.
By graduation, Eugene had achieved a national high school record for throwing the javelin more than 193 feet. His commitment also resulted in a track scholarship at the University of Southern California.
A torn shoulder muscle ended his javelin-throwing career and any hope of making the Olympic team. However, while watching a play, Eugene became intrigued with acting. Again, he committed himself to being the best. He was determined to make it as an actor, so he enrolled in acting class. And he changed his name.
You know Eugene Orowitz as Michael Landon, who went on to star in three of the most popular shows in television history: “Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Highway to Heaven.”
Eugene/Michael demonstrated the difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results.
Comedian Bill Cosby dropped out of Temple University as a junior and became a starving comedian. But he was committed to becoming successful, staying up all hours of the night to talk to seasoned comics, research material and work on new routines. I had a chance to play tennis with Bill many years ago, and he told me, “Anyone can dabble, but once you’ve made the commitment, then your blood has that particular thing in it, and it’s very hard for people to stop you.”
Commitment is a prerequisite to success. Commitment is the state of being bound — emotionally, intellectually or both — to a course of action. Commitment starts with a choice and is sustained by dedication and perseverance. Actions speak louder than words.
If you want something, but you’re not motivated to do the work necessary, you will be frustrated and unsuccessful. So take action!
• Make a list of everything you want. Write it all down. Don’t leave out anything that you want, from becoming a CEO to getting a date. Then rate each item according to its importance.
• Consider your investment. Examine each of the items on your list, and ask yourself, “Am I willing to invest the time, energy and resources necessary to achieve this?”
• Make a decision. Look at your list and identify the items that you want the most with the highest score for “willingness.” Then start working on a plan for success over the next weeks or months — and be sure to set a deadline.
The Rev. Robert Schuller says there are four kinds of people: “First, there are the cop-outs. These people set no goals and make no decisions.
“Second, there are the holdouts. They have a beautiful dream, but they’re afraid to respond to its challenge because they aren’t sure they can make it. These people have lost all childlike faith.
“Third, there are the dropouts. They start to make their dream come true. They know their role. They set their goals, but when the going gets tough, they quit. They don’t pay the toll.
“Finally, there are the all-outs. They are the people who know their role. They want and need and are going to be stars: star students, star parents, star waitresses. They want to shine out as an inspiration to others. They set their goals. … The all-outs never quit. Even when the toll gets heavy, they’re dedicated. They’re committed.”
To be committed, you must be “all in.” You can’t just do the best you can. You have to do everything you can. Remember — the difference between 100 percent all in and 99 percent all in is 100 percent.
When I think of commitment, I think of the story of the pig and the chicken who are walking down the road. The chicken says, “Hey, pig — I was thinking we should open a restaurant!”
The pig replies, “Hmmm, what would we call it?”
The chicken responds, “How about ‘Ham-n-Eggs?”
The pig thinks for a moment and says, “No thanks. I’d be committed, but you’d only be involved!”
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman and author. He also spends about six weeks a year in Aspen.