I’ve been practicing parkour for about a year and a half. It’s one of the clearest practice grounds for commitment I’ve come across.
In this post I want to share what I’ve learned about commitment from parkour, and how you can apply it to practical areas in your life.
Parkour Teaches Commitment
My favorite part of practicing parkour is when I see a jump I want to make that is just at the edge of my skill set. If I come up short, I might get injured.
To prepare, I’ll do several practice jumps of an equal distance but on flat ground where I can’t get hurt. I’ll do these preps until I’m certain that the main jump is within my range.
But the certainty that I can make the jump doesn’t make the fear go away. My body still wants to protect me from hurling myself through the air over concrete.
So usually, what happens next is I’ll try the jump a few times, but because I’m afraid of getting hurt, I’ll bail mid-air. I go for the jump half-heartedly and without commitment.
Call it quits or commit
Then I’ll stand at the edge of the jump. Tired of coming up short. And wavering if I should go for it again or not. This usually lasts several minutes until I realize that I need to either call it quits or commit.
If I choose to commit, I imagine a “circle of commitment” on the ground (a tip I got from Lex from Parkour Visions in Seattle 🙌🏻). Stepping into that circle represents a decision that I can’t go back on. I have an agreement with myself that the edge of that invisible circle means something.
So once I step in, I’ve made a decision. I enter into a state of resolve. My energy straightens itself into an arrow. All distraction and doubt wash away. I know 100% I am going for this jump, so the fear no longer serves me.
(The picture at the top is me right after I stepped into the circle).
And then I go for it. And I have to go for it 100%, because 90% might get me injured.
(Gif above is not me. haha. Maybe if I had 200 more years to practice)
Commitment and Integrity Beyond Parkour
I’ve found that this practice of entering into a space of commitment extends beyond just parkour.
The energy of commitment is a cousin to the energies of decisiveness, discipline, purpose, integrity.
I’ve actually had my own version of the “circle of commitment” that I’ve been using for about 10 years. I call it the “snap rule.” The deal I have with myself is that if I say I’m going to do something, and then I snap my fingers, then I will do it. No question about it.
I treat these snaps very carefully because the power of the snap is something I’ve grown to hold reverence for.
Here are three ways I’ve used the commitment energy of the snap recently:
- I was watching a hilarious YouTube montage of a guy doing fart pranks. I realized I had been going on for too long but was having trouble stopping, so I said to myself, “three more farts and then I’m done,” then I snapped. And after three farts I closed my laptop.
- I just enrolled in a 63-day course on creativity that will require me to listen to a lecture and do a creative activity every day. It’s a big commitment! So, before paying for the course, I wrote down my intentions for the course and the parameters I was going to commit to. Then I went into the parkour-commitment-energy, snapped, and paid the course fee. The container was then open.
- I was considering jumping in the ocean a few days ago, but was scared and wobbling. “It’ll be so cold! Should I or shouldn’t I?” Commitment is the perfect antidote to this kind of wobbly energy. I said to myself “okay, I am going to jump in the water on the count of three. And once I get in the water, I will attempt to enter into a focused, embodied space.” Then I snapped, counted to 3, and went for it.
Commitment and Coaching
This applies to coaching as well. A coaching relationship with a client (or when leading a group container) is a commitment. The coach is opening a container with the client, and the walls of that container will only be as strong as the intention and commitment of both the coach and the client.
Try Using Commitment Energy Yourself!
I’d recommend trying out the “snap rule” for yourself (or your own version of it). Be careful to only use it when you know you can follow through (e.g., I wouldn’t make a “snap” that I will run a 4-minute mile). Here are a few places you could try:
- Only one more chip
- This is my last episode
- I will go for a walk/run for the next 30 minutes
- I will get out of bed on the count of 3
- I’ll stay in the cold shower for 2 minutes
What Do You Think?
If you care to share, I’m curious how you think about commitment. What does it mean to you, and how do you summon it? Feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com to share.
If you want to stay in touch—
If you dug this reflection and want to get personal notes from my monthly newsletter, just splat your email in the box below.