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Commitment Before Ego

November 2, 2009

I’d like to share with you a tool that we use in our men’s groups when we find ourselves conflicted, angry, confused, or otherwise irritated with a situation.

The question to ask ourselves is this: is our commitment before our ego?

Our commitments are what define us as men. They’re how people learn to trust us, rely upon us, and to feel safe with us. Our commitments are black and white. Once we’ve made them, we no longer have to second guess them, reconsider them, or rationalize our way out them. In other words, once we make a commitment, that’s it, it’s done. Now we just have to figure out how to honor the commitment.

The bastard that keeps interfering with our honoring our commitments is ego. In this context, ego is all about you—what’s comfortable for you, convenient for you, satisfying for you, pleasant for you, etc. We find ourselves conflicted when we put our egos before our commitments.

For instance, as fathers, we innately understand our commitment to our children. When our kid has to be picked up from school, a dance, or jail, we do it. We may be annoyed or tired, but we’re not wrestling with whether to get in the car and take care of business. Our commitment to our children—for most of us—is black and white.

But let’s say you’ve committed to working out three times during the week, part of a larger plan to lower your cholesterol. But come Friday morning, you’re just not feeling it. So you convince yourself that it’s okay to skip today because you’ve earned it. Your ego just maneuvered in front of your commitment.

Another example. You’re struggling with your corporate job. The 9 to 5 has become 7 to 7. You find yourself complaining to friends and family…and your men’s group. You look like like crap, aren’t especially pleasant to be with, and you’re stuck in the problem. Guess what? You’re ego is before your commitment.

Your ego, in this case, is that little boy who wants to whine rather than find the solution. You can tell your ego is engaged because you’re only thinking about how this situation is making YOU feel.

Were you to examine the situation through a mature man’s perspective, you’d realize that your commitments here are about: taking care of yourself so you’re the father and husband you want to be, providing for your family, building a future that reflects the man you want to be, being in the solution rather than the problem, etc.

Once you’re reminded of your commitments, and you place them in front of your ego, you can get into action to make the necessary changes to be the man you want to be.

Where have you placed your ego before your commitment? Give us the details and tell us what you plan to do now.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2009 6:56 pm

    This is so awesome – and so true. It’s much easier to complain or allow yourself to feel frustrated and depressed about a situation – whether it’s something that’s developed over time, or something that simply keeps recurring repeatedly (e.g. a bad habit or a weakness). The point about the ego is very insightful. What is the attraction in powerlessness? I would suggest that the attraction in allowing yourself to be the victim is that it makes you feel better in the short term (it’s not my fault, my life is so hard etc). The nasty downside is that it makes you feel much worse in the long run, and ends up sucking you into a self-perpetuating cycle of inaction.

    It’s far better to bite the bullet now and face the short term pain of acknowledging the bad situation you’ve let happen. Then pick yourself up like the man you are, and resolve to learn from it, and “find a way or make one” as Hannibal said. The secret to life is falling down seven times, and getting up eight.


  2. Steven Carpenter permalink
    September 18, 2011 8:14 pm

    When I first read the about the need to make tough choices and eventually make a commitment I was struggling to decide if I wanted to go law school. I was severely conflicted for a good three semesters. I was distracted and confused. But as soon as I made that tough choice a burden has been lifted. I now know my comittment and everything is a lot more clear to me. Now this post brings the post comitment issue that I now struggling through, to my attention. I am definitely putting my ego before my commitment. I should be studying consistently to get my goal of a 175 on the LSATs but I just “whimp” out. It sucks. I think now I need to… quit being a whiny little pussy, man up, and focus. Maybe get laid or even find a lady friend. Everything is going good for me I just don’t have anyone to tell confirm this to me or to push me.

    Great article!!

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