My dear Billy, No person is ever honoured for what he receives, but honour is the reward for what he gives.
When a baby is born, it is the parents, relatives and the parents’ friends who rejoice. But who cries? It is the baby. But when somebody dies it is the other way round. The departing person should have so lived his life that when he dies, he should be rejoicing and having the satisfaction that he made a contribution to the world and left it a better place than he found it. The crying is left to those who have lost a good person.
On the other hand, we have the feeling that money is the new god that carves the destiny of the world. It would seem that today, it’s money that runs the lives of people. But what is not adequately recognized, although we may have made the experience ourselves, is that there are certain basic things that money can’t buy. For example, money can sure buy amusements, but it can’t buy happiness; a soft bed but not sleep; highly illustrated books, but not wisdom; a beautiful timepiece but not more time; lovely companions, but not a home; medicine, but not health.
Indeed money doesn’t always talk sense, or it talks sense in a way that people don’t want to understand. We very often hear people saying that everyone has a price, which gives us the notion that those who say it are themselves for sale. People with character, integrity, and the right values are not for sale.
Values. What are they? They have today been reduced to a set of principles that seem to be changing faster than the world itself. They differ from place to place, from person to person. They help people to climb the ladder of success, wrong by wrong.
“We wonder about the declining morals of the younger generation: where will they end up?”, says Shiv Khera, founder of Qualified Learning System Inc. USA, and educator, business consultant and entrepreneur. Before we point a finger at them, he adds, let’s evaluate who is to blame. “Values and virtues are not hereditary,” he says. “They are learned. We need to get our priorities right if we are to influence the next generations positively.”
According to Shiv Khera, an integral part of a good value system is commitment. “When your value system is clear, it will be a lot easier to make decisions and commitments.” You can’t make a commitment to your company by selling its secrets to its competitors.
Likewise, you can’t keep a friend by revealing to others what he told you in confidence, or keep a commitment to a job by trying to do as little as possible. Not being able to depend upon the basic tenets of relationships can lead to disasters. Our strongest relationships are tied together with the invisible bond of commitment. Today, breaking a promise is considered no big deal. All relationships go sour without commitment.
Lack of commitment destabilizes relationships and leads to insecurity. Where there is lack of commitment, no one knows where he or she stands with each other. Instead, my dear Billy, when you make a commitment to someone, you are saying, “You can count on me, not matter what. I will be there when you need me.”
Unconditional commitment, says Khera, is when your behaviour is predictable in an unpredictable future. What makes the future unpredictable? Changes in your life and circumstances; and changes in external conditions. Regardless of the uncertainty, a committed person says, “You can count on me.”
A person who makes a commitment is willing and prepared to give up a lot. Some of the motivating factors that lead to commitment are: I am willing to sacrifice because I care; I am a person of integrity and you can trust me; I will never let you down in any circumstances whether in good times or in bad times; despite pain, I will still be there.
Commitment, my dear Billy, is not like an enforceable legal contract. Its foundation is not a signed piece of paper; it is based on character, integrity and empathy. Khera says, “Commitment does not mean sticking to something when you have no choice. It means sticking in spite of choices.”
It is very important to keep commitments, my dear Billy, because it brings security in an insecure world. Commitment means surrendering your personal wants for another person’s needs. Don’t forget that needs are stronger than wants. Commitments act as glue that bonds relationships. Relationships are based on commitment, not just on closeness and intimacy. A person can be intimate and close, yet not committed. Society’s values have changed so drastically over the last several decades that it is even considered good to have uncommitted relationships. Those who hold such an opinion are selfish parasites who are trying to get as much as possible while the going is good. They are only takers who are a liability to society.
A commitment implies putting the other person’s needs ahead of one’s own. But if we inadvertently make a commitment that is wrong or unethical and goes against our value system and conscience, our greatest commitment is to re-evaluate whether or not to go forward with it.
Loyalties cannot be bought, they can only be earned. To whom do we owe loyalties? Is it to individuals or organizations? None of them. We owe loyalties to values. Therefore, my dear Billy, when a person makes a commitment of loyalty to either an individual or an organization, what he is really saying is, “I stand by you because I believe in what you believe in.”
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