By Dr. Ichak Adizes

Part Two


What would you think of a business person who tells you that he or she is committed to opening up the New York market, but who doesn’t allocate any time and financial resources to make it happen?

You would call him or her a dreamer.

What would you think about a fanatic who was willing to die in order to advance a particular political or religious idea or belief?

You would consider this person extremely committed.

What does this tell you? There is no commitment without a cost. The more you are willing to pay, the more committed you are. If you are willing to enter the New York market with a $10 million investment, you are more committed than someone who decides to enter with an investment of $500,000. If there is no investment, there is no manifestation of the commitment.

Why does the price you pay manifest your commitment?

Because what you are committed to is making a CHANGE, whether it is entering the New York market or starting a revolution. Even if you say: “I am committed to staying the course and not changing,” what you are really saying is: “Although there is change around me and pressure to change , I will not change my course.” Not to change in spite of the world changing around you might require some sacrifices. Holding to one’s position or course of action and resisting pressures to change require energy and often involves taking risks. Thus, that, too, is a commitment that involves a cost.

While there can be no commitment without change, there could be change without commitment. In that case there is no strategy, no direction, no conscious plan of action for how to deal with the change.

Let us summarize:

There is no successful change without commitment and there is no commitment without a price to pay.

I do not think we are as clear about the relationships between change, commitment and price to pay in personal life as we are in business.

For example, people often say: “I am committed to going on a diet” – but as soon as they feel hungry, their commitment evaporates. That tells you that they are not willing to pay the necessary price to lose weight, to make change happen. They are not truly committed.

What do you mean to say when you declare, “I am committed to my marriage”? What it should mean is that although there are challenges to the institution of marriage, although there are temptations, you are willing to resist them and stay the course of marital fidelity; you are willing to pay the price of saying “no” to “opportunities.” You are willing to endure the pain that some conflicts, which happen in every marriage, bring.

The greater the change that is affecting us or that we want to implement, the higher the commitment and the higher the price we must be willing to pay.

And the same holds for commitment not to change: The greater the pressure to change, the higher your commitment to hold a position and not change and the higher your willingness has to be to pay the price of staying the course.

To start a company, with a truly innovative product, for a market that does not yet exist, involves significant risk. That means major changes must occur for the endeavor to be successful. The commitment that the entrepreneur must be willing to make in money and time – including sacrifices in his personal life – has to be equally great, or the endeavor will fail.

To start a family in a new country with a new job is also a major change. How committed are you? What price are you willing to pay? How much pain can you take? How committed is your spouse? What price is he or she willing to pay?

In today’s free-for-all society, staying married requires commitment and that commitment involves emotional and time investments that in the hectic world we live in, some might not want to make. They want to change from single life to a married life without paying for that change. It would be like wanting to change from being a regional company to a national company without any investment.

We know it does not work.

I have noticed and even personally experienced commitments without the willingness, or readiness, to pay the price. For example, the commitment to exercise, without actually sch edu ling the time to do it; or the commitment to control anger, without willingness to pay the price of swallowing one’s pride and shutting up.

Whenever there is change, which requires a course of action, ask yourself these questions:

How big is the change?

How committed are you to that course of action?

Your commitment is measurable by the amount of time and money you are willing to risk and the pain you are willing to endure in order to make that course of action succeed.

Is the price you are willing to pay sufficient to cause the desired change to happen? Are you launching big ships in shallow waters; or is the water deep enough?