Clarity is the key, we tell our coaching clients. You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
Action too is essential. Without action, you get nowhere.
But while these principles are true, they’re not the whole story. You can be clear as a bell; you can take any number of steps toward your goal; and still not get the outcome you seek.
The goal will elude you.
Unless you’re all in.
I remember as a young associate at a big law firm being quite clear that I wanted my own business, my own practice. I can remember thinking about it (for a long time), talking with colleagues about it, buying books about it, reading about it, researching what it would take, even ordering business cards! But until I actually put the date on the calendar on which I was going to quit the big firm, until I announced to the partners that I was leaving, until I tendered my written resignation, it all stayed safely within the realm of fantasy.
I hadn’t been all in.
On a recent coaching call, a client shared with me his frustration over the lack of progress in his business’ development. Growth was flat, he said. Turns out he was continuing to work on other projects… giving only intermittent attention to his real goal, his real love; still tentative… because he wasn’t yet… all in.
There was still uncertainty; still ambiguity and ambivalence. Still the possibility of turning back. And it was showing up – unambiguously – in the bottom line.
My wife Ann and I have the best gig on the planet. We so value the depth of the relationship we share… and the fun… What’s interesting though is that our relationship grew exponentially strong after we were married… when we finally knew in the depths of our hearts that we were all in.
There’s that ancient military adage: If you want to take the island, burn the boats.
In business, finance, careers, start-ups, product launches, creative endeavors, relationships, fitness; whatever the goal… if it’s important enough:
Commit. Go all in.
Allow no means of escape.
I’m not suggesting this is easy. In fact it’s downright scary. And sometimes it needs to be a process… not a moment… and that’s ok.
But here’s what’s true: when you’re all in, the magic happens.
As W. H. Murray wrote, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
So if there’s an area of your life that’s not quite clicking, ask yourself, “Have I burned the boats? Am I all in?”