In my last blog I mentioned that I went on a trip to Israel, but what I didn’t mention was that even though the travel time was long (26 hours to get back), I cut the trip shorter than originally proposed so I could get back in time to do the Bike for Boys & Girls Club fundraising ride.

In fact, I got back home at 2 a.m., and the 50-mile ride started at 8:30. Why did I do this? Because I’m committed to fundraising for the Boys & Girls Club. Why? Because the folks at the Boys & Girls Club do great work. Why? Because the people who work there are committed to making kids’ lives better.

One of the things I love about Madison is that people are very committed to whatever they believe in. You might say some of those people should be committed, but that’s another issue. Even back when I went to school here in Madison, it was one of the things I loved about UW. If you wanted to find a pickup basketball game, you could find that at midnight. And if you wanted to find a party, you could find that at 6 a.m. What people are into, they’re really into, and that not only makes Madison an interesting place to live, but also a better place to live.

It’s rewarding to have commitments in your personal life and even better to have them in your work. Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” I agree. Although for some it may be a stretch to “love” your work, I think you should at least like the people you work with and feel the work you do makes a difference. If you’re committed to your work, it can make a huge difference in your individual success and happiness, and also the success of your organization.

For the “helping professions” like nursing, teaching, etc., it’s easy to make the connection as to how you affect others. But no matter what you do, you can influence people’s lives. If you’re in a customer service role, you have an impact on your client’s satisfaction level, affecting him or her personally. You also enable your clients and their companies to make a positive impact on their clients or community. If you’re in an internal customer service role, you have the ability to support your co-workers and affect their lives personally as well as their ability to succeed professionally.

At a company level, it’s important to think through and understand the big picture of what your business does to better the world. If you’re The Boys & Girls Club, it’s easy to make the connection. But for all companies, there should be an answer as to why your organization exists (beyond just making a profit). Understanding your personal contribution and your company’s big-picture role is important. It can provide motivation, increase satisfaction, and ultimately help drive your company’s success in achieving the big-picture goals.

How does your organization affect others? And what can you do within your organization to increase that impact? Answering these questions might help boost your commitment, and in turn your personal and your company’s success.