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Motivation or Commitment? Which One Wins?

Mindset Made Simple Tip #189 Watch or listen HERE.

I can’t get with the program today.  I was up at my normal workout time and ready to head to my gym.  And then…

We have all been there.  A sick child.  A traveling spouse. A nagging task.  Or…a lack of motivation…or all of the above for me today. 

Whatever the reason, we have those days.  Those days when we just can’t catch the fire we need to get things done.  So what do we do?  We procrastinate.  We wait to “feel like it”.  We let time slip through our hands and then regret not using it more wisely…as I am doing RIGHT NOW!

It is BEAUTIFUL outside and as I dork around, a beautiful day is being wasted away!

I’m not focused or motivated.  What now?

I spent some time talking about being confident vs. being competitive with one of my teams last week.  My contention: Sometimes it is better to be competitive than confident!


Competitiveness is an action.  Confidence is a feeling.

Can I use the same paradigm for motivation vs. commitment?

I heard someone use this scenario related to this exact question the other day.  I don’t remember who said it (I need to start writing every good idea source down!), but here is a paraphrase of his point.  If you are a parent, you have been in a situation where you heard your baby crying in the middle of the night and you WERE NOT motivated to get up to see what he or she needed.  If you’re like me, you lay there and waited to see if the person next to you moved…and you waited a little longer…or played possum for a few minutes.  If it was your turn (again), you got up.  Again, not because you had ANY motivation to do so, but because you are committed to the wellbeing of your child.

Herein lies the difference between motivation and commitment.

Understanding the nuances between motivation and commitment can be the difference between getting moving or wasting the day away! Let’s add discipline, too, since these three concepts are often intertwined.  Even so,  each carries its unique significance in driving individuals and teams toward success.  

Which one do you think is the winner for getting things done?

Let’s start with what I lack today – motivation.  It’s like the initial spark that ignites action and my spark started with a pretty good flame today, but then “poof” it was gone!  Nevertheless, it's that push…that feeling…the inner state that gets us out of bed in the morning, fuels our aspirations, and propels us toward our goals. According to positive psychologist Martin Seligman, "Motivation is the propulsion system that moves individuals toward their goals. It's the drive that keeps them focused and determined even in the face of challenges."

Yet, like confidence, it can be fickle and fleeting. External motivations may lose their pull over time.  Practice gets mundane.  Slumps sneak in.  Things don’t go as planned…and even if they go exactly as planned, we get “eh” about things that fired us up to start. 

Our inner drive can suffer, too.  Intrinsic motivation can flicker out for a multitude of reasons like those I listed at the top of this tip.  How many excuses can you think of if I give you 2 seconds 😊.  If we get sidetracked for any reason, including any internal or external disruption as simple as things not going in the order you planned or those thoughts and feelings of doubt that slip in uninvited!

Then how do we do what we need to do even though we don’t feel like doing it?

Here is where going to get the baby, no matter how tired you are, comes in!  Unlike motivation, commitment isn’t about desire or enthusiasm.  It is what you are, not how you feel.  It’s putting in the work because you are committed to the process, regardless of how you feel about what just happened or what might happen.

I am committed to being healthy, so I will eventually make my way to my gym.  I am also committed to sending a Tip every Monday…so here is my committed action winning out over my feelings of apathy and lack of motivation!

Commitment is the unwavering resolve to see things through, regardless of obstacles or setbacks… excuses… sitting on the couch… what the lineup says…or how we feel!  When individuals and teams are committed, they remain resolute in their pursuit of goals, even when motivation dwindles or things go differently than expected.

It’s putting up because I said I would.  As Michael Jordan said, "Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It's the words that speak boldly of intentions and the actions that speak louder than words."

Commitment allows those with lesser talent to thrive because they outlast their competitors.  It allows those who don’t feel confident enough to get something done to keep moving forward.  Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance suggests, that while talent and intelligence are valuable, they pale in comparison to the power of commitment and perseverance.

Where does discipline fall in this trio of the “how to get things done” framework?

We often hear DISCIPLINE over MOTIVATION.  You see memes, graphics and stories..that are all true…and good.  We know that discipline is the daily practice of habits and routines that keep us on track toward our goals. Motivation may ebb and flow but discipline ensures steady progress over time.  It’s a choice, not a feeling.

Discipline lays the framework for our doing.   Sports psychologist Jim Afremow notes, "Discipline is the cornerstone of greatness. It's the ability to do what needs to be done, even when you don't feel like doing it." 

I’ll add to this that discipline provides the systems we use to keep ourselves on track.  Leadership expert Stephen Covey agrees, stating, "The undisciplined are slaves to moods, appetites, and passions. The disciplined are the masters of their own fate."

BUT ULTIMATELY, it isn’t discipline that gets us out of bed to check on our child.  It isn’t discipline that keeps us fighting for during the season even though things aren’t going as planned.  It isn’t discipline that keeps us connected to our teammates, our jobs, our positions or the process. 

It’s commitment that does that! 

While motivation provides the initial impetus and discipline ensures consistency, it's commitment that ultimately drives results. Commitment is what sustains individuals and teams through the inevitable highs and lows of the journey toward success. It's what separates those who just show up, even the disciplined ones, from those who thrive and continue to grow.

COMMITMENT to who we are, why we do it and what we strive for but can’t yet see is vital to success, consistency and confidence!  Success in anything is all about whether or not you are willing to COMMIT.  What will you give up to get what you want?  All commitments demand such decisions. 

Think of it this way.  Every time you say “yes” to something, like sitting and waiting to feel motivated to do something, you are saying “no” to something else! 

Commitment requires vision, shared and in our own minds.  It requires a sense of purpose, together and on the inside!  And it requires making decisions for the long haul, not made based on how we feel want to feel right now!   

While motivation may light the fire with discipline keeping it burning, it's commitment that ensures the flames of success continue to blaze.

How do we spark commitment in others?  As leaders and coaches, it starts with our own.  What has connected you to your commitments?  As we re-engineer our own, maybe we can find ways to help cultivate commitment and those we lead. 

If nothing else, we can remind them that like confidence, motivation is a feeling.  Feelings come and go.  Commitment, like competitiveness, is a choice.  No matter how you feel, you can choose to compete and you can choose to commit. 

And if we have chosen to be somewhere for a time, remaining committed to where we are, regardless of how long we plan to be there, will make it a much better experience for ourselves and everyone around us. As I once told my team years ago, you are either on the bus of off. Hanging on to the side gets tiring...and hanging off causes road burn that hurts and leaves scars for a long time!

When you are on the bus, no matter how long the ride, you will be moving in the direction of your goals because no one ever got “there” wherever “there” is without being committed!

Manage the moments and build momentum one commitment at a time!!


P.S. Does your team need a competitive or commitment reboot? Reach out today to schedule a session and give them new tools to manage their mindset and performance!  Shoot me a text at 234-206-0946 or an email at and get scheduled today!

Julie Jones

Mental Performance Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946 

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