A friend from church invited me to attend the Alamo City Workplace Ministry Summit sponsored by the Biblical Leadership of Excellence (BLE). It was a half-day event packed with informative talks and discussions.
The opening presentation was delivered by Mike Kiolbassa who is the president of Kiolbassa Provision, a family-owned business specializing in handcrafted smoked meats.
About midway through his talk, Mike mentioned he was struggling to lead the company effectively because of unconscious commitments. I had my pen and paper ready because I knew this would be a great learning opportunity.

Unconscious Commitments
Once I made it back to my home office, I researched the meaning of commitments we make unconsciously, which are deals we have made with ourselves that we may not fully understand or know about, but they keep us from realizing our big goals.
Mike noted that he was committed to transforming Kiolbassa into a dominant company to provide products across all 50 states. To make this happen, he needed to practice a values-based leadership style.
However, Mike mentioned the following unconscious commitments holding him back … 

  • He wanted to be involved in all aspects of the business, including production, marketing, and accounting.
  • He wanted to be in control, which meant most decisions across the company were run by him first.
  • He was concerned of the risks the company would encounter if certain changes were adopted.

Mike knew the actions he needed to take to succeed; however, his approach was counterproductive to realizing the larger company goals.

Another Example

Since my early 20s, I knew I wanted to be a professor. I loved being in the classroom.

I had a conscious commitment to teach adult students. This goal was clear and undeniable.

However, my unconscious commitments were obstructing the journey …

  • I told myself it would be too difficult to find a doctoral program that suited my busy work schedule.
  • I felt I would be unable to complete the course work and dissertation because I lacked the necessary academic background.
  • I believed friends and family who were unconvinced I could make the commitment to earn a doctorate. 

I wanted to start my PhD studies in my 20s, but the saboteurs were at work. At 32, I finally stopped making excuses and found a doctoral program that met my needs.
I realized the unconscious commitments would never go away. Instead of getting rid of them, I had to find a way to ignore them.
With this change in mindset, I completed the doctoral program in 4 years. The dissertation was difficult, but once I had a clear vision of the expectations, I knew success was inevitable.
What’s Next?
I feel blessed my friend asked me to attend the BLE summit. The Lord works in mysterious ways. As I sat through the morning sessions, I knew this was the right place for me.
I took several pages of notes from Mike’s talk. He mentioned how he used his knowledge of unconscious commitments to make the changes necessary for a more successful company. He learned how to get out of the way and let go of the control. Empowering his employees to take the lead has made a huge difference in the company’s growth.
There is both power and beauty in a work environment where all company employees are empowered to do the tasks they were hired to do.
Once we become aware of the unconscious commitments holding us back, we can make a change for a more successful future.