Commitment, Consciousness, Competency

I have been wondering lately why so many leaders in many fields have their decisions go so wrong; leaders in politics, religion, business and sports, for starters.

I came across these three words somewhere, and they have stuck with me as a helpful starting point.

Let’s unpack them – in today’s ‘speak’ and in the context of this short Blog.


Commitment is the desire to do the right thing, regardless of the cost. I can recall two contrasting examples in my own life. The first was when I had screwed up at work and needed to apologize in a staff meeting. I was too embarrassed. Much to my permanent shame, I called in sick that day, and the matter was forgotten and never mentioned by others, at least to me. I never forgot, and it still gets said in my head occasionally decades later.

Second was a time a staff courageously brought to my attention a pattern of my behaviour that was unacceptable to both of us. I promised to do my very best not to repeat the behaviour.

Real commitment isn’t easy.


Consciousness is having the awareness to act consistently and apply moral convictions to daily behaviour. I think I have the consistency down pat reasonably well. Folks frequently say, ‘ That’s so you, Glenn.’

Applying moral convictions is much more complicated. They can be slippery at times. I can start with an innocuous step, but it leaves me far from where I want to be when added together with subsequent and similar actions. In my current environment, I struggle with the morality of the rights of the individual vs. the rights of the group; examples include health, access to services and, in general, the right to pursue happiness.


Competency is the ability to collect and evaluate information and foresee potential consequences and risks. One person’s competency is another’s out-of-the-box thinking, or thinking from the middle ages – or worse, the age of the dinosaurs. I try to look and find people who are competent in a particular field of study and seek their opinion. Eventually, the final decision is mine. The end of many Acknowledgments as part of the Forward section in a book ends with the author saying, “Any errors or omissions in this book are entirely mine.”

I had a situation with the family member of a client dying from cirrhosis of the liver after a lifetime of heavy drinking. He lacked mobility and couldn’t get out of the house on his own. He did want the opportunity to have a drink. Not too much, but just enough to take the edge off his predicament. I didn’t know what to suggest to the family, so I consulted with the Ethics Committee at a local hospital. They told me that …

I will leave the committee’s response unwritten as it highlights how obviously black and white, yet how very grey life can be.

These three words, commitment, consistency and competency, are my starting point when I ask myself, how did an organization get to that point that it made the 6 o’clock news?

Please give this a bit of a think. Do you have any situations that could help to explain your behaviour or the behaviour of others? Will these three words help you in the future?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

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2 thoughts on “Commitment, Consciousness, Competency

  1. Patti+Dolman says:

    I love those three Cs and if only we could all strive for them. I thought of another C word but this one is negative. Complacency; the worst any of us can be is not caring. Twice I was in a situation where I could have said something or done something and I didn’t. I still go back to the scenarios, one on a bus where a mother had struck the fear of G-d into her young children by verbal abuse. They were frozen into silence and their faces did not deny that this was normal. Another situation was a young family in a hotel breakfast room. The father appeared to be a military man, shaven head and an authoritative demeanour. The wife looked broken, the children subdued. Clearly an abusive relationship. Or maybe not, could there have just been an argument? I don’t have a sixth sense about these things, just a strong feeling. I thought afterwards that I could have slipped my phone number into her purse with a note. “ Call me I will help you”. Was this complacency on my part? No I don’t think so but I often find myself thinking back and wondering what I could have said or done that might have made a difference and why didn’t I?

    • glenn says:

      Ah, the regret of omission. It is hard to leave those thoughts behind, at least for me. I never forget my moments, but I try to get them on the shelf where they don’t interfere with my life but stare down at me to remind me I could do better.

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