Commitment and risk

July 20, 2018

Commitment is a word I used to hear a lot when I was young. "Do things with commitment", "Commit, don't quit"; the stuff of pithy posters hung up on elementary school walls in "middle America".

It would be easy to make fun of those posters, except I'm in my 30s now, and if there's one thing I see time and again that separates successful people from everyone else, it's the tendency to commit. I'm not just talking about career/money success either, it's the same with health, marriage, even kids. "Entrepreneurs" who float from one thing to the next, parents who barely know their kids—there's a word for people who don't commit, and that word is: loser.

I know because I've known a lot of these guys, I've even been that guy myself, and I've seen how self-defeating it can be.

An observation about markets: they reward commitment. Founders have more upside than employees; general partners, more than limited ones. That was a surprise because I've always thought of markets as pricing risk, not commitment.

But the more I think about it, they're really one and the same, risk and commitment. Commitment, by definition, entails substantial investment of resources, whether money, time, or attention; there's always risk. So if you believe it's true, "nothing ventured, nothing gained", it may also be true: "nothing committed, nothing gained".

Happy Friday.