Commitment and Dedication. It never really crossed my mind that these two words could have different meanings until I listened to a recent podcast where the speaker casually mentioned that there was a difference between them. “Commitment is made with the head, while dedication is made with the heart”.
We often see these two words used interchangeably. Many dictionaries use one of them when defining the other. One of such defines dedication as “the quality of being committed to something”. This means that dedication could be seen as a measure of commitment –a larger degree of commitment.
This was a huge discovery to me. It got me thinking all through that day, and all through the week. I decided to get on the phone with a very dear friend of mine to share the idea and, together, we came up with eight different areas where the difference between ‘commitment’ and ‘dedication’ could be seen.
And I decided to share them with you this week:
A guy makes a commitment to speak to his new girlfriend on the phone every night before going to bed. He does this because it makes sense to him that in order for a relationship to thrive, it has to be lubricated with constant communication. That head-knowledge is what drives his commitment. It is what makes him pick up the phone, even when he’s exhausted from the day’s job, to place a call to her.
However, as he begins to talk with his girlfriend every night, he begins to learn more about her and begins to like her even more. Now he enjoys their conversations and looks forward to them every night. He can’t do without them. This is the point where he has made the shift from commitment to dedication. Calling her every night was first the logical thing to do, but along the way it became an emotional thing that he couldn’t do without.
Going to Church
A lady might decide to take her faith more seriously, so she makes a commitment to be at church every Sunday. She shows up on Sundays, sometimes having dragged herself out of bed, listens to the sermon, gives an offering, sings some songs and goes home to return the next Sunday.
As many Sundays go by, she begins to interact with other members of the church. She gets to know more about them, they invite her to one of their small groups and she begins to form a deeper relationship with them. Now, she looks forward to seeing more of them, so she not only comes on Sundays, but on Wednesdays and Fridays for other church activities. She visits the sick, reaches out to those who just lost their jobs; she begins to love the members.
This is the point where her commitment shifts to dedication. She is now emotionally committed. Committed not only to coming to church, but committed to church.
A new hire just had his first day at work. He was educated on the company’s policies including his working hours: 8AM to 4:30PM. He’s excited. He knows that to maintain his job, and thus be able to afford his living expenses, he would have to show up early, do his job, and leave at or after 4:30PM. So, he commits to doing just that.
As weeks pass, however, he begins to see the bigger picture of what his job entails. How his serving that customer goes a long way in changing society as a whole. Now he’s even more excited. He sees the company’s cause, and it’s a cause he would solidly get behind. This is where he makes that shift from committing to showing up, doing his job on time, and leaving; to showing up with enthusiasm, going above and beyond to serve a customer, and not leaving until all of his work is done, and he has looked around to see that no one else in his department needs his help for anything.
He is now dedicated to a cause, and not merely committed to his job.
I started walking this path last year. So every day, I would read at least 15 minutes from a book, listen to an instructional audio, watch a video and receive guidance from a coach. I committed to doing all these because I wanted to grow personally. So I dragged myself to do them every day.
As time went on, I noticed some growth and even a burst of inspiration for writing weekly articles. I just had to share, with others, what I was learning. Now I had to do those daily habits because they were what drove me –what inspired me –to come up with my articles. I couldn’t do without them!
That was how I made the shift from merely committing to personal development habits, to being dedicated to personally developing.
You may find that you spend money frivolously and, as a result, you have accumulated some consumer debt. You want to get rid of your debt, so you decide to commit to a budget.
It’s not so easy when you start but because you have a goal, you stick to it anyway. Temptations come, in the form of sales discounts, and give you a pretty hard time but you carry on anyway. At the end of the year, you find that through sticking to your budget, you were able to pay off your debt.
That feeling of accomplishment coupled with the load off your shoulders jolts you into dedication. You don’t want to return to that state of being in debt and not having enough to do little things like traveling, sending your parents money, and buying Christmas gifts for people.
You are no longer just committed to your budget, but now dedicated to your financial health.
Being a Husband & Father
A man may be committed to providing for his wife and kids, because that’s what he’s supposed to do. It is his duty as a husband and a father, and that makes sense to him. He provides, for them, their physical and financial needs.
His wife on the other hand loves her children and provides, for them, their emotional needs of validating their feelings and speaking into their lives. She is also devoted to her marriage and thus respects and loves her husband.
The husband makes a shift from being merely committed to his duties as a man, to be being dedicated to his family, the moment he starts to identify other needs in his home, such as the emotional needs, and meets them too.
Being a Student
A committed student attends his classes, does his assignments, and even passes all his examinations. A dedicated one is a student of life. He allows what he learns to change him. He applies it to his life the same week he learnt it in school.
It is funny how a student would go to school to study engineering, do very well and come out to look for a job. Did he go to school to learn how to look for a job or how to become an engineer? A dedicated student would have designed and built so many engineering devices while in school, that it’s either jobs look for him or he creates one for himself instead.
Being a Teacher
I’m sure by now you know the difference between a committed teacher and a dedicated one. I would only stress that you cannot be a good teacher until you’re first a good student.
It reminds me of when I went to teach English in Brazil. I could have stayed committed to the curriculum and taught my students what I had on paper. But I decided to take Portuguese lessons and soak up their culture. This made me relatable to my students. Now, I was not only imparting information, but the results of an experience I had gathered.
That shift made me enjoy teaching them, becoming their friends. I was no longer just committed to showing up to teach but I was now dedicated to their learning and improvement.
This is where I need your help
So my friend and I concluded that commitment is a prerequisite for dedication. You have to be committed to something first before dedication comes. Dedication comes when you realize that the activity you’re committed to is not just about you, but about the people involved.
So we wondered: Is there ever anything that we should only be committed to, but not dedicated to? (Think about all those football fans). We had no particular answer to this question, so I would appreciate it if you could help me with an answer in the comments section.
Thanks, and I look forward to reading from you!
Photo Credit: Imagevillage | Dreamstime.com