Some great big and not very scary words on commitment

In my twenties, I was in my Mordecai Richler novel phase. Geez, that guy loved to trot out some $10,000 words. I’d have to look some of them up. Words such as corpulent (obese), capacious (roomy) and perfidiousness (betrayal, lack of trust).

After I’d look up the word, it seemed as though I would then trip over it every few days. I went from having never seen the word to seeing it all the time.

Since delivering a series of workshops and talks themed on accountability–and its sister commitment–this spring, I find that I’m running into something connected to them every few days.

Early this week, I was moving some notes around on my bulletin board and re-discovered a crumpled, photocopied piece of paper in bold italic. It was the famous paragraph on commitment that is often inaccurately attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (pronounced gur-ta). Next time you want to sound smart, just drop ‘gur-ta’ into the convo. Very hipster.

I recall a friend at a ManKind Project circle giving this quote to me about 10 years ago. Obviously, there was something that resonated with me about it at the time, although I largely ignored it since.

In my recent coaching, workshops and leadership with the ManKind Project, I find that I’m getting more curious and driven to learn more about the role that accountability and commitment play in my life, and how they serve others.

As per my last blog, I believe that accountability/commitment—the two are fundamentally linked in my view—are not negative Nellies. In fact, when I commit to something and hold myself accountable, I’m stepping boldly into my life to be the person that I want to be. I am living big, according to my values; I’m walking my talk, showing up, cleaning up my messes, taking responsibility.

It just seems like a vital, robust and mature way to be. A way to move forward, risk, and get ‘er done.

Ok, here’s the quote—suitable for pinning on your phone or bulletin board—the majority of which was actually written by W. H. Murray. (Goethe wrote the last three sentences beginning with ‘Whatever … .’)

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative (and creation). There is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

The irony struck me that after finding resonance with accountability/commitment in the last few months, “unforseen incidents” such as finding this quote on my bulletin board keep happening.

Equanimous, eh?

Or, if you like, cool.

For more on accountability/comment, check out my last blog.

My Moe Norman presentation at St. Thomas G&CC on May 23
I’m giving another in a series of presentations on Moe Norman on Wednesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. at St. Thomas Golf & Country Club. Interactive, fun and with lots of storytelling, the talk is called, “What We Can Learn From the Eccentric Genius of Golf.” Admission is free, there will be a cash bar and I’ll sign copies of my book, The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story.

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!