Record-Breakers was a TV show I liked to watch as a child. They’d talk about and interview people who’d done extraordinary feats and broken world records. The show would always end with Roy Castle, the main presenter, playing his cornet and singing the song Dedication. ‘Dedication’s what you need.’
That song was a reminder that if you want to get anywhere or achieve anything, you need to put the time in and you need to keep going. That’s a good life-lesson. And it’s a great leadership lesson. Leadership requires vision – seeing a picture of a better future and helping people go from here to there. To do that requires all sorts of skills and people and resources and planning. But in the end there comes a time when you have to start. The journey needs to begin. And once it’s begun you’re unlikely to reach your destination without dedication. You need to put the time in and you need to keep going.
I recently read the short book Silence by Erling Kagge, the Norwegian adventurer who was the first person in history to reach the ‘three poles’ – North, South and the summit of Everest. In Silence Kagge says: ‘The secret to walking to the South Pole is to put one foot in front of the other, and to do this enough times.’ I think he’s talking about dedication. Putting the time in, and keeping going.
There’s an ongoing debate about success. Some say it comes from natural talent. Some say it comes from hard work. Many, including popular authors like Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, say it’s a combination of both. What most agree on, is that natural talent isn’t enough. You need dedication.
Dedication is important because some things just take time. Dedication is important because we need to learn from our mistakes and failures. Dedication is important because we’re easily discouraged and the pressure to give up is often great. This is true in all areas of life, including in leadership. We see this on many occasions in inspirational texts in the Bible. Hebrews 11 lists many people of faith, and summarises their lives, describing their tenacity and dedication. In particular, Jesus required great dedication as he faced opposition, false accusation and went through horrendous pain, including death itself, in order to win forgiveness and eternal life for humanity. Dedication is what’s behind the exhortation in Romans 12:12 to be ‘joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’ It’s a call to put the time in and to keep going.
We need dedication if we’re going to make a difference in life and a difference in the world. We need dedicated people, led by dedicated leaders.