February 16, 2010

Public commitment

I'm not a huge NBA fan, but something I always thought was great was the story of why Gilbert Arenas wears the number zero. Here is an adidas commercial that tells the story. If you are not familiar, the first line of the video explains it best:
"The reason I wear zero is because, it lets me know what people thought of me, you know, in high school, in college, and in the NBA. So every time I look and put on that jersey, it lets me know that I need to go out there and fight everyday."
Now, if you follow sports news, you'll know that Gilbert has gotten in significant trouble recently, and that has made me remember this story, and I really do love it. Instead of letting those around him influence what he could do, he used their doubt to help inspire him to achieve his goals.

Public commitment is very powerful. People are much more likely to follow through with what they say when said publicly. Gilbert Arenas may not have directly set his goals publicly, but he did put it out for all to see and live up to.

You may not be able to put your goals on your chest, but you can make them more visible. Try posting to twitter/facebook/your blog, or bring them up in conversation with your peers. In regards to groups and teams, public commitment can be used to help make members follow through on what is expected of them and make them more accountable.

So do you have anything to share? Let's hear it.

1 comment:

Nate Schneider said...

In the book Reality Check, Dr. Robert Cialdini tells about another study:

"...the more public [a] commitment is, the better. There was a study done on college students who as freshmen were having trouble[...]They all made a commitment to study at regular and specific times in a systematic way every night. One group kept that commitment in their heads. Another group wrote it down and kept it private. Another group wrote it down and showed it to everybody else in the room, and said, 'Here's what I promise that I'm going to do.'

"The first two groups didn't improve at all on their next test. But in the group that showed their public commitment to everybody else in the room, 86 percent got one full grade better...Eighty-six percent versus virtually nothing from the other groups because they made those commitments public."