The 6 Key Components of Commitment

by Jeff Janssen, Janssen Sports Leadership Center

How do you define commitment?

What exactly does it mean to truly be committed to someone or something?

In today's age of entitlement and instant gratification, the critical concept of commitment is getting watered down in the minds of many athletes.

80% of coaches believe that today's athletes don't fully understand nor appreciate the importance of commitment. To combat this insidious assault on the importance and value of commitment, I have athletes define the concept of commitment and have them discuss the 6 Key Components of Making and Keeping a Serious Commitment listed below. I strongly encourage you to do the same.

Here's how we define commitment:

Commitment is a serious, long-term promise you make and keep with yourself and others to fully dedicate yourself to your task, training and/or team, even when, and especially when times are tough. Further, commitment means not only promising to do something, but much more importantly, actually investing the necessary effort and actions to make it happen.

The 6 Key Components of Commitment

Based on this definition, you’ll notice that there are six key components of making and keeping a Serious Commitment.

A Serious Commitment is a...

1. Solemn Promise

Instead of just being hollow words said casually in passing, a Serious Commitment is a solemn pledge you make and keep with yourself and others. You must understand the complete consequences of your commitment and fully mean it when you say it. When you make a commitment, others will take you seriously and rely on you to be true to your word.

“Our tradition calls for a commitment to accountability. This is not an assumption – this is a promise that I will be there for you; and I can count on you being there for me.”
Bob Ladouceur, De La Salle High School Football Coach

2. Full Investment

A Serious Commitment means you fully invest yourself in the cause - physically, mentally, and emotionally. You connect completely with your cause and passionately pursue it by putting your whole heart, mind, and soul into it. You don’t hold back but go “all in”, putting in your full attention, energy, and effort to accomplish your goal.

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.”
Swami Sivananda

3. Willingness to Sacrifice

When you make a Serious Commitment to someone or something, it also means you willingly and selflessly make individual sacrifices for it. It is a key priority for you and something you willingly work the rest of your life around, even if it causes some personal hardship to you. Commitment means you knowingly and willingly give up things you might want in the short-term to potentially gain something of greater value in the long-term. In a team setting, commitment also means sometimes sacrificing your individual goals for good of the team.


“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.”
Mia Hamm, Former Soccer Superstar

4. Long-term Obligation

A Serious Commitment is a long-term obligation you must continually work toward and ideally see through to completion. It isn’t something you try out and then easily abandon. It is something you establish, embody, and embrace for the long haul.

“Those who stay will be champions.”
Bo Schembechler, Former Michigan Football Coach

5. Pact to Persevere

A Serious Commitment means sticking with something even when, and especially when, times are tough. Just like the traditional marriage vows of “for richer or poorer, in sickness and health,” true commitment is unwavering regardless of the circumstances. When you make a commitment to someone or something, you make a pact to persevere through the tough times together. It won’t be easy, but it is almost always worth it.

“Everyone starts strong. Success comes to those with unwavering commitment to be at the end.”
Howard Schultz, Founder and CEO of Starbucks

6. Agreement to Act

Finally, a Serious Commitment is way more than words. It is best demonstrated and proven by your actions on a regular basis. People will initially listen to your words but will ultimately measure your commitment and your character by your deeds.

"Commitment is an act, not a word." Jean-Paul Sartre, Philosopher


For more info on specifically how to make and keep a Serious Commitment to your task, training, and team, click on the diagram below to check out our Athlete's Commitment Manual!


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