Nov 30, 2009

Posted by in Expand Your Mind, Leadership, Life According To Poker | 0 Comments

Are You All-In? Giving It All To Gain It All

Are You All-In? Giving It All To Gain It All

There’s a cultural phenomenon that’s been sweeping the land:  poker as a spectator sport.  My gosh, is this a great country, or what?  Poker is America’s newest spectator sport. downloadphoto02

It gives new meaning to the term “couch potato.”  We can now sit in the comfort of our living rooms and watch, with no physical exertion on our own, men and women sit around a table and play cards.

Let me be the first to admit that I find myself occasionally hooked by the high drama of watching people playing poker for big money.  Poker’s got everything – deception, intrigue, fear, and a generous dose of showing off.  

There is usually a wide range of personality types around that final table where some winner will take it all.  There’s the obnoxious, loud-mouth braggart that you love to hate.  There’s the mysterious young dude in sunglasses who doesn’t let on that he’s even breathing.  There’s the woman who played her way through the male dominated poker world to take her rightful place with the masters.  Then there’s the old guy in the cowboy hat that is beloved by all, including his competitors.  It’s pretty much everything you need for a great night’s entertainment on the big screen TV.

Recently Rev. Jim Kitchens, the minister of our church and a self-confessed poker fan, gave a sermon on the concept of “going all in.”  This is the moment of truth for a poker player.  It’s when she bets every last chip on one hand.

She’ll either win the pot and live to play another hand, possibly win everything and be the champion, or lose it all and go home empty-handed.  It’s an electric moment and it’s what poker players and fans live for – the feeling of everything being on the line with nothing held back.

Jim used “going all in” as a metaphor for depth of commitment.  It was one of those sermons that make you squirm in your seat because it forces you to take an honest look at your life and what you claim is truly important to you.  You have to see if what you say matches up with how you live.

I think it’s useful to do an inventory of whether or not I’ve gone all in with what I say I value.  In my work, am I all in when it comes to being of service to my customers?

How about my loyalty to my co-workers or colleagues?

Am I all in when it comes to following my own dreams and goals?

Have I put every chip in the pot in terms of my family?  My faith?  My community?  My friends?

Am I all in?

I’ve spent almost three decades working with companies and individuals on how to improve performance.  If I could give you just one idea on creating optimum personal performance, it would be this:

Go all in.

Whatever your skill level, expertise, advantages or disadvantages, if you or your team are truly all in, then there is no way that I would bet against you.  I’ve seen it over and over in countless examples of a person or team, seemingly unlikely to achieve their stated goal, not only achieve it, but exceed it.  The most important factor in their success was that they were completely and totally committed with all of their hearts.

Look at your own experience.  You may be just getting by in your work but you are the star of the weekend softball team.  What’s the difference?  I would wager almost anything that you’re all in on the softball but half-hearted about the work.  If that’s the case, then what’s the answer?  How can you be as good at the work as you are at the softball?

You either go all in with the work you’ve got or find some other work that you can go all in with. If your choice is to find other work, then get busy.  Take the steps that will lead you to a more fulfilling job.  If you feel like you should stay where you are, then get busy creating the “all in” mindset towards it.  For a lot of people this is a monster challenge.

I understand it.  I have experienced it.  I sometimes still experience it.

One thing that has always irritated me is this idea that if you just “follow your passion” the windows of heaven will open up and shower you with success and peace of mind and life will be a bowl of self-actualized cherries.

Right.  If only it were that simple.

My problem is that I’m not completely sure what my passion is when it comes to work.  I like writing a lot.  I enjoy giving speeches.  But what I’m truly passionate about is my family and friends.  Maybe I’m a slacker at heart.

My passion lies in hanging out with people I like.  Rather than quit work and go on a sabbatical to discover some burning career passion, which, by the way, might be just the ticket for some people, I’ve decided to go all in with my work because, well, it’s my work.

Seriously.  I decided that whatever work I do can be a source of fulfillment and even joy, depending on the extent to which I go all in with it.

It can be a chicken-or-egg question.  Should I wait until I find work that I love before I commit to go all in?  Or should I go all in so that I will begin to love the work that I’ve got?

It’s like the street sweeper who decides to be the best street sweeper in the history of the world because it just doesn’t make any sense to approach it any other way.  Why would I conceivably not want to be the best I can be at whatever I’m doing?

I like the idea that whether I’m sweeping a street, weeding my yard, playing drums in a band, teaching a class, taking photos at a wedding, working as a customer service representative, selling insurance, washing cars, running a company, being a personal fitness trainer, bagging groceries, or writing a book that I take the attitude that I will knock your socks off with how I do what I do.

Or maybe it’s my own socks that I want to knock off.

It’s why people climb mountains.  Because they’re there.  Why would I want to go all in with my work?  Because it’s there.  That is all the reason that anyone needs.  The bigger question is, why would you not go all in?

Guest Post by:

Joe Calloway – Bestselling Author of “Becoming A Category Of One”

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