Escalation of Commitment

So I am currently recording this in the bath soaking my knee up, and will transcribe this later…so will see how this goes. I want to talk about something I learned in class today called escalation of commitment. This is basically when managers in business pump unbelievable amount of time and resources into a project that they know in their hearts is a failure…but they keep it up because of ego and the fear of looking bad.

Escalation of commitment is something that we all try to avoid in the business world because it wastes time and resources, and things in general just turn out badly. So, in general, this term is bad news. It all comes down to the human ego. People don’t want to look bad. They don’t want to fail because they are afraid of looking bad or always trying to look good. This is what I learned over the summer which was that the fear of looking bad or trying to look too good drives 99% of people in the world. This is just a terrible and dysfunctional way to live your life. Because, you are not trying to be authentic when you are trying to look good. You are just being fake…really. So, escalation of commitment is a result of that…and trying to be something or someone you are not. Sometimes you can  be a success, but general the term is centered around failure.

What else. So this is a marketing term…I literally wrote this down on a page in my product marketing class today. Why the hell am I talking about this? Well, I am talking about this because it relates a lot to what I am going through right now. I have always been the type of guy who has always had a core group of friends, like 5-7 friends. These are really good friends that I would go to battle for and I know that they would go to battle for me without a doubt. And, just from my own personal point of view, that is so unbelievably important to me. “A good friend is always there when you need them. One present in both your victory and sorrow is a great friend. The best friend shapes your character to reach your moments of success and overcome struggle.” I grew up in a small old town where the average age was like 60 or something. Maybe 104 in some statistics. This is how I grew up…no kids around. It was just me and my dog in the yard. I still think about her every day. She was definitely my best companion. I learned a lot from that dog. She never talked to me but she always was listening to me…and she was always committed to me. I don’t think there is any shame in saying that you learned commitment from mans best friend. No matter what she was there. I think that I carry the exact same messages to each one of my friendships. I have some people in my life tied for first and I give them all of me. I am a firm believer that there are some people in the world that can definitely become your best friends, but you have to remember this concept of escalation of commitment. It is all about a two-way road. This is basically what it is coming down  to for me. When you put in that amount of time and resources into something, and you are not getting any light back because of it…it is time to let your ego go. It is time to move on and there is nothing wrong with that. This is not a story about quitting by the way. There is a huge difference between quitting and being smart enough to know when to put your time and your heart into something else. Whether that be other people or things you are working on, that is fine.

So there has been a lot of that recently. And, it’s just interesting. Sometimes it takes a while for true colors to be shown, and there is nothing you can do about it. You can keep trying and beat it to death…or you can just say “Ok! It is what it is.” There is nothing wrong with this. This is something that I am starting to really learn. It is definitely a process, but people are going to come and go. There is nothing you can do about it. It is their decision. Begging for people to be in your life or not leave…unless it is something incredibly important…is just not authentic in the first place. Not saying that the emotions and feelings aren’t there, but you are basically admitting to all of these ways that you were faking it or you are trying to be something that you aren’t. I know this from personal experience and it is just all bad. It is always about how sorry you are or that you won’t do this or that. And if people want to come back into your life, they will. They will come back. One of my favorite quotes is from my mentor Tracy who told me that you must hold the people you love with an open palm, so that they are free to fly away, and in time they will always fly back to you if it is right. This is so true and it has definitely happened in the past couple of weeks. It is just an amazing thing because I never saw it coming.

Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and if it doesn’t happen then it doesn’t happen. All you can ask of yourself is to act with class and move one. I think that is such an important thing. Anyone can say go screw yourself, but true people can say “Good luck.” There is nothing else to it. You don’t have to explain yourself (although there are special occasions for this). I mean would you rather take a bullet to the head or five to the chest and bleed out (Thank you Moneyball). Some times need a little bit more explanation, but most of the time they don’t. I just feel that there are certain things that I don’t mess around with. All you can ask from yourself is to just be you.

Don’t let your ego get in the way. This is just absolutely crucial. Don’t worry about looking bad. Looking bad is okay and it makes you human. When you focus so much on trying to look good…and I have been there I am so guilty on this…you just lose your character and personality. I will be the first one to let you know I screwed up on something. So for tonight that is really about it. This post was a little bit different because I was speaking it, but I think I got my point across pretty well.

Just wanted to say thank you for the support with Churchill Visions and I am starting to roll through a lot of the comments you guys are leaving here. So thank you again for that. We will see what the doctors say tomorrow morning. So maybe some of the events that have happened over the past week weren’t exactly the best but that’s not going to make a bad week for me. I think I am stronger than that and it has nothing to do with a macho kind of sense…but it is just more about staying true to myself. When people do hurtful things or say things…it is just a good luck wish. You don’t have to curse people out and drag it on. It is just a clean-cut. When you starting dragging it out, both parties just start making crap up and the conversation really goes nowhere. This is not what I like to do and it’s not really my style. It’s not that I don’t care, but I just realize that feelings and emotions are just….feelings and emotions. So keeping your class throughout these situations is important. Anyways, thanks for reading this tonight and putting up with a pretty long post.

Evan Sanders

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  • Genevieve Petrillo
    February 10, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I’m learning a lot here. Escalation of commitment – Who knew? I’ve seen it, done it, and never knew it had a name.

  • Connor
    February 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I love your writing. It’s written to be easily understood but it’s meaningful and most of all… true. Your honesty is refreshing and you’ve got a kickass blog name. Keep being awesome!

  • Trey Ramsey
    February 10, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    Escalation of Commitment. Wow. Guilty as charged… and your observations on feelings and emotions are dead on. Great post!

  • redheadjourney
    February 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    I had never heard this term before, and had to look it up. Also came across the term “lock-in” in association with it. I’ve not only seen it done, I’ve done it, and I think one would be hard pressed to find any person who has engaged in this somehow in some way in their life.

    After reading quite a bit about it, I will likely soon blog about this term myself (will site this blog entry)…what comes to mind is that ego also gets in the way and leads to escalated commitment in the sense that one has a vision, but holds too strong to exactly what that must look like, how to get there, etc…the who, what, when, where. What is needed is to constantly be re-asking the question “why?”…why am I doing this, why do I think this, why is this way important to me, why is this my vision. If you keep asking yourself, and answer *honestly*, I think that allows one to stay flexible and open to other possibilities that will fulfill the vision and purpose of ones life, rather than getting “locked-in” on a path that you may have been “so certain” is the one to success…Or even what you think success means. People don’t ask that enough either…what does success mean, and why do I think this is what it means. It’s scary how much the definition of “success” is actually sold to us in order for us to continue to be competitors, consumers, and rivals of our fellow man.

    Thanks for the post, it gave me a lot of inspiration and food for thought. Will be writing more on it in my own blog soon. Cheers.

    • redheadjourney
      February 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Edit, that should have said one would be hard pressed to find someone who had NOT engaged in this somehow in some way in their life.:)

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