Radical Commitment: Taking Failure off the Table

an individual standing at the base of a mountain

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? If you were 100% sure that you couldn’t fail, you might open yourself up to all sorts of possibilities in the world. That’s what radical commitment entails.

Radical commitment takes failure off the table. It’s the determination that you are all in on your goals, no matter what it takes or how many tries are involved. Radical commitment is a powerful shift in thinking that will make all the difference in creating the life you want.

What Is Radical Commitment?

Radical commitment is the choice that you make in your mind to opt out of failure. It’s the decision to continue moving toward your goal, come hell or high water, no matter what. You’re either going to do it, or you’re going to die trying.

Imagine that your goals are locked up in a suitcase. Radical commitment gives you the combination to that lock. When you choose radical commitment, you can open yourself up to possibilities.

Radical commitment is so important that I talk to prospective clients about it before we enter into a coaching agreement. During a prospect call, I always say:

“There is one thing that, more than anything else, is going to make a difference in your journey. It is committing radically to your outcome. If you do that, you don’t need coaching or anything else; you’ll figure it out. And if you’re unwilling to make the commitment, no amount of coaching or anything else is really going to help you.”

Without radical commitment, finding success is going to come down to luck. You’ll be playing a game with yourself, rolling the dice to see whether you end up getting something.

Instead of taking that chance, fix your sights on radical commitment.

Reasons People Avoid Radical Commitment

Before we jump into exploring how to make a radical commitment, let’s look at the obstacles that sometimes hold people back from making this leap. I’ve noticed three main reasons why people don’t radically commit.

  1. We’re worried about disappointing ourselves.
    One reason that we don’t plant a flag in the sand and say “I’m doing this no matter what” is that we’re worried about having expectations for ourselves and missing those expectations.
  2. We’re looking for the ‘right’ path.
    Sometimes, we think that there’s a “right” path for us. That belief shows up in our language when we say things like “I just don’t know if I’m doing the right thing for me.”

    We start to play a game in which we’re trying to get the universe to prove to us that we’re on the “right path.” That’s a real challenge because the right path is determined by what we’ve committed to in our lives.
  3. We believe it’s not possible.
    We may be convinced that our goals aren’t in the cards for us. We think that, no matter how hard we try, we’re not going to be able to achieve them.

Getting to Mount Rainier

If you want to access the power of radical commitment, then you’ll want to address these three obstacles.

I can see Mount Rainier out my office window. So when I talk to clients about this topic, I often use this mountain as an illustration.

If I wanted to get to Mount Rainier, whether the slopes or even the summit, there wouldn’t be any magic in my getting there. If I were willing to point my feet in the direction of Mount Rainier and keep walking in that direction, then I’d eventually arrive.

Even if my feet were to get off course, I could turn back toward the mountain and keep moving in its direction. I would keep it in my sights and continue forward, no matter what got in my way.

That would mean putting one foot in front of the other and being willing to navigate whatever challenge came up, whether a river, a broken bridge, a hill, or a militia. I’d either make it to Mount Rainier or die trying.

(And if I died trying, I wouldn’t even know I’d failed because I’d be dead.)

Steps to Radical Commitment

Radical commitment can turn any goal into something simple as walking to Mount Rainier.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the process will be easy. It could involve constructing a bridge, building a boat, or swimming in a very cold river. All of those would be challenges to navigate.

But the very fact that challenges exist is the reason why radical commitment is so important. So here’s how to go about it.

#1) Pick a loveable goal.

A loveable goal is something that is really meaningful to you.

Committing to something that you don’t truly care about is a really great way to prove to yourself that you’re not that great at committing to things.

The opposite approach is to choose something that is really loveable for you. You’re looking for something that’s so important to you that you’d be willing to fail at it 1,000 times.

Imagine that you’re playing poker. The chance of getting a royal flush is about 1 in 650,000. Wow. It seems like your odds of getting that hand are incredibly, incredibly slim.

That’s one way of looking at it. But there’s another perspective worth considering.

If you sit down at the table for long enough, it’s not a question of if you’ll get a royal flush but when you’ll get it.

So look for a loveable goal that you can put the reps into.

Think about what it would mean if you were willing to fail at something 1,000 or 10,000 times. What would happen in your life if you approached the thing that you most want as if you knew you couldn’t ultimately fail? What would happen if you tried your hardest to do it 10,000 times — do you think you might get there (or at least close)?

That is the power of radical commitment. It’s the willingness to keep trying.

#2) Find a path of possibility.

You’re going to have a really hard time committing to something if you don’t believe that it’s possible for you.

There were plenty of people before the Wright Brothers who didn’t believe that it was possible for humans to fly, so they never tried.

But the Wright Brothers were so committed to flying that, no matter how many failures they experienced, they kept returning to the challenge. They were either going to do it or die trying. They created possibility out of a lack of possibility.

Most of the things that people want to do have been done by others (or at least something like them). Even for the Wright Brothers, the process of building machines that could do things and iterating on them had already been developed.

So for you, finding models for success could be the way that you identify a path to possibility.

The internet is fantastic for this because all kinds of people have done all kinds of incredible things. If you can find one of them and reverse engineer how they did what they did, then you can use that for finding your own path to possibility.

But remember, you’re looking for your path. Identifying a path to possibility calls for not only believing that a path to possibility exists for someone but that it is possible for you.

Choose a path of possibility that you can see yourself walking, even if it’s different from how others have gotten there before you.

#3) Cut yourself off from retreat.

This step involves making the decision that you’re going to get there or die trying. You’re going all in, and you’re going to keep moving forward.

When I was building my coaching business, I was facing failures in the beginning. I was engaging in conversations with people, and they weren’t going the way I wanted them to go.

I remember a moment when I was lying on my bed and dealing with a lot of emotions. My wife suggested to me, “You could go do something else, like another corporate job.”

I remember this feeling rising inside me that I would rather live under a bridge and eat out of garbage cans than ever do that again. So I just refused. I made the decision that I was unwilling to face that path.

I was either going to give it my damnedest, or I was going to die trying.

#4) Enjoy the journey.

Once you’ve made the commitment, you just get to enjoy the journey. You can appreciate doing your reps and seeing what happens.

You’ll try some things out, you’ll learn from the journey, and you’ll keep trying new things. There’s a real power in having fun with the process.

Would you be willing to fail if it meant getting anything that you wanted in the world? That is the power of radical commitment.
Join me for Episode 8 of The Shift to Freedom podcast so that we can talk more about what it means to radically commit.

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