• 2020-02-25

How Unreasonable Does Commitment Have to Be?

Unreasonable Commitment creates a powerful cocktail.  It happens whenever you plant your flag on any mountain of an idea that you are willing to die for.  Or, in Jerry’s case, when you’re staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel. 


That’s precisely what happened one night in 1860 at a San Francisco gambling joint when the easy-going bartender was confronted by a heavily armed, intimidating giant of a man demanding some “hellfire that’ll shake me right down to my gizzard.” Instead of informing the pistol-packing gunslinger there was no such drink on the menu, Jerry calmly improvised and committed to a new course of action. 


Grabbing two pewter mugs, one filled with boiling water, the other with his finest scotch whiskey, the heroic barkeep struck a match and ignited the scotch. He then proceeded to pour the liquids back and forth between the two tankards. A stream of lightning blue flame flowed from mug to mug. Jerry followed with a teaspoon of sugar, a twist of lemon and proudly announced to his newest customer that he was being served with his latest original drink called “Blue Blazer”.

An astonished saloon audience could only watch and stare in wide-eyed wonder.

 

But, the heavily mustachioed, nattily attired Jerry didn’t stop there. Knowing that he possessed a novel idea that regular folks loved, Jerry single-handedly took it up himself to become the inventor of mixology. When he wasn’t working behind the bar, Jerry took pen to paper, wrote the original book on cocktail making and illustrated his secret formulas for drinks like the “Blue Blazer”, the “Tom Collins” and many others that sprung from his spirited imagination. 


Jerry would continue to display creativity and showmanship with every shift at watering holes on both coasts as well as stopovers in Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans. He was once invited to tour Europe and at one point his weekly paycheck was higher than the Vice-President of the United States. More than anyone, he alone established the image of the bartender as a creative professional, earning the nickname "Professor" Jerry Thomas.

Nothing in this story suggests that Jerry was rational, reasonable, logical or professorial.  Far from it.

Only by making an unreasonable, illogical commitment to a simple idea and having the courage to follow it through to the end, did Jerry pave the way for others and cement his personal and professional legacy.

 

  • Unreasonable Commitment is the boiling jug of water that gives your brilliant blue flame idea vision, focus and direction.
  • Unreasonable Commitment allows you to look any menacing threat square in the eye and say to hell with the consequences, pull the trigger and give it your best shot.
  • Unreasonable Commitment overrides your natural, human impulse to second-guess and doubt what your gut is telling you to be true.
  • Unreasonable Commitment allows you to move forward without need of focus groups, expensive consultants, white papers, case studies or academic research. If your idea is good enough, there is no requirement for any prior evidence that your concept has merit.

 

Any professional mixologist worth his or her salt will tell you success with every sip involves a delicate balancing act of four critical flavors:

 

Acidity
Sweetness
Bitterness
Booze

Study any individual, team, company or community success story and you discover another form of mixology; a balancing act of four critical elements:

 

Inspiration & Imagination
Initiative
Courage
Unreasonable Commitment

This potent mixture revealed itself yet again after running into Fraser following a June 2018 visit to a TEC Canada group in Regina, Saskatchewan. Buzzing with ideas and fueled by hope and faith, Fraser thrust a business card in my hand and exclaimed, “We gotta talk!”. Within a week, he made the courageous decision to arrange a gathering several months later to collaborate on a branding cocktail for the future of his organization. With no guarantees of success, about 25 business and community leaders huddled at a day-long “bootcamp” at Mosaic Place and discovered their own version of a Blue Blazer.


Refusing to hedge his bets or play it safe, Mayor Fraser Tolmie and his team went all in on a combustible idea designed to make their community stand alone among all others in the country. It appears the gamble has paid off handsomely.


Last year alone, the City of Moose Jaw reaped more than $7million worth of free global publicity and a 30% hike in tourism. Word continues to spread all over the internet that something “notorious” is brewing in this Canadian prairie town of 33,000.  

In anything we do – in business or life - there is always an option to go all in or maintain status quo. And after that initial rush of hope, enthusiasm and courage, it requires Unreasonable Commitment to cross that finish line.

And when the journey gets difficult (which it always does), that’s when most people give up, quit and mutter, “I never got the break I needed”.


There is an old saying that if you want to take the island, you’ve got to burn the ship you came in on and eliminate any escape routes or Plan B options. If he were alive today, Jerry Thomas would drink to that all day long over a few cold ones with his like-minded friend Fraser Tolmie over at Rosie’s Bar on River Street.  Making an Unreasonable Commitment defies all logic.But, it’s not until this decision is made does the magic of your idea become fully formed and begin to gain traction.


Doing anything in business and life that others will judge as “impossible” only becomes reality once you have shoved your logical mind all the way back to Grade 9 math class. What would happen to the precious seeds of your best ideas if you made a completely Unreasonable Commitment to planting them in the ground of your choosing and doing whatever it takes to see the whole thing through? 

What if you were so utterly and insanely committed you looked at your idea and said, “It’s just me and you kid, come hell or high water”!

Who knows, you just might capture your own lightning in a bottle.






The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man”.   GEORGE BERNARD SHAW

p.s … No one has ever demonstrated the ability to tip toe their way to success and the same is true for any leader who is serious about building an irresistible brand. Just like any other successful form of human endeavor it will require courage, a leap of faith and Unreasonable Commitment to see it through. If your universe revolves around making this happen, you can jump start the process with a program called The Branding Highway BOOTCAMP.

p.p.s … This past Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of one of the greatest commitments to a greater goal the athletic world has ever known.

This monumental accomplishment has sparked 40 years of joyful conversations, free drinks and pats on the back for every guy who pulled on the Team USA sweater that day and made a miracle happen.

One team pulling together and making an Unreasonable Commitment has generated 40 years of golden memories for hockey fans who watched one of the most significant moments of the Cold War unfold on a sheet of ice at Lake Placid. 40 years ago this month, I recall being glued to the TV, watching from a college dorm room as fellow collegians from south of the border pulled off the impossible thanks to a spirit of Unreasonable Commitment that was greater than any one individual. No one who was watching the gold medal game that followed against Finland will ever forget the iconic image of goalie Jim Craig, swaddled in the American flag, searching the stands, looking for his recently widowed father.

But, where is that flag?