Commitment: It's one of those words that makes us cringe most of the time. It's a reminder that we have to do something or go somewhere; it's a nagging or guilty reminder of a promise we made; it often is the thing that makes our daily lives so hectic. But it doesn't have to be those things! As defined by the Social Change Model of Leadership Development, commitment is "the motivational energy to serve that drives the collective effort. Commitment implies passion, intensity, and duration." Commitment is positive. It is a natural instinct and an individual choice (or a group choice) that we make to focus our energy on something that matters to us, whether it be our family, work, community, church, or even our own personal growth and happiness. It is a genuine part of who we are, not a product of what society tells us who we should be or do. Commitment is not something that someone can force us to have. We own our commitments. Pam Witter, the founder of Leadership Allegany and now the VP for Development and Community Engagement at Trocaire College in Buffalo, came last week to speak to our cohort about this value. Pam embodies what commitment means in her family and work life and can be a role model to all who listen to her story. As Pam said, a big part of commitment is taking the time for self-reflection, so she had us chart our commitments. In one column, we listed the things or activities that we are most involved in in our lives (i.e. family, work, church, hobbies, volunteerism, etc.). In the second column, we rated our commitment level as either fully committed, stalled, or not committed right now. The third column charted the results of this level of commitment (how does this make you feel?), while the fourth column listed the action that we are going to take, whether it be give up on the commitment, recommit, or go "full-force ahead." You can talk about your commitments and what matters most to you, but until you get it on paper and truly evaluate how invested you are, you cannot determine the actions you must take to reach the best balance in your life and turn your negative feelings towards commitment into positive ones. Again, "commitment implies passion, intensity, and duration." It requires sacrifice and "stick-to-it-tiveness." Commitment isn't always easy. If we are committed to something, we are in it for the long haul; we don't give up when the road gets rocky. Even something that we love and are 100% committed too can be difficult and require more energy and resources than we often feel that we have, but when all is said and done, choosing to go "full-force ahead" on those things that matter most to us will bring us satisfaction and peace with how we spend our lives. Commitments are not static; they can flux with the changes of our lives, but one thing that will never change is the life-giving nature of our "innate passions and desires" lived out in commitment.