In my work as an executive coach, and in the sales training I do, I encourage clients to play Texas Hold ‘Em poker. I do this for one simple reason: The game is more about reading people than reading cards. You read people and bet on yourself. Sounds a lot like entrepreneurship, doesn’t it?
The most successful entrepreneurs all share one trait: They’re what is known by gamblers as being “all-in.” "All-in" is a term that originated in no-limit poker. When you go all-in with your hand in poker, it means you're betting all of your chips as a sign of total confidence in your hand. You can’t be half-invested if you want to succeed.
The same holds true in business: If you want to elevate and separate from the competition, you have to go all-in. You simply cannot expect to succeed if you only have half your energy and effort focused on the mission.
Still, a lot of entrepreneurs and their employees struggle with this concept of being all-in. As evidence, look no further than the most recent Gallup research indicating that 7 out of 10 employees are described as disengaged. There’s nothing "all-in" about that. Distraction, the inability to focus, a lack of follow-through: We're all becoming a nation of partly-in’s, or at best, half-in’s.
And that's the point: All-in doesn’t happen with ease or great frequency, because it forces you to step outside your comfort zone. Fortunately for those who do go all-in, this is where growth takes place.
Now is the time to double-down on your efforts and be all-iin.
When you’re not getting the results you want in life, the reason may not be so much an issue of failure as an issue of focus. You can’t decide to go all-in on everything. Saying yes to one thing requires saying no to something else.
Going all-in on the right things, though, enables you to give 100 percent to what matters most. So, instead of being tentative and fixating on making sure you have a “good plan B,” you should instead commit to being all-in on plan A. Consider the alternative: If you’re "sort" of executing plan A and developing a good plan B at the same time, you will be passed by the person who commited himself in full measure to the same plan A.
That's why now is the time to double-down on your efforts and be all-in.
A shining example of being all in is the up-and-coming country band Broseph E Lee. This band's members, from Illinois, recently made the decision to push all their chips to the middle of the table and pursue their dreams by quitting their “day jobs” and relocating to Music City -- Nashville -- to become full-time musicians.
Front man Brock Jones left a position as a civil engineer. Sean Halbrook resigned from his position as a high school teacher. Brooks Boyer dropped out of college. Chris Yost resigned from his job in video production. And Aaron Larsen left his post at an autoglass company. Five entrepreneurs crossing the point of no return together. Now, that's all in!
The gamble paid off: In the six months since they arrived in Nashville, the band has landed a management and production deal, produced a new EP and shown themselves to be prolific songwriters. Broseph E Lee is also on track to play more than 105 shows across the country this year.
No wonder Brock Jones cited the group’s all-in move to Nashville as the best possible career decision they could’ve made: "The relationships, connections and exposure to other like-minded professionals, which led to their aforementioned successes, never would’ve been possible without that commitment to go all in," Jones told me.
The importance of commitment
Clearly, commitment is the cornerstone of success in every business. We all want to expand our brand, but in order to do that, we must leave something behind in the process. How do you do that? By crossing the point of no return. When there’s no escape plan or possibility of retreating to safety, you have no choice but to commit yourself in full measure.
Sometimes, going "all-in" means taking a step back financially before the leap forward comes to fruition. In 2012 Adobe went all-in by eliminating its physical software and switching to a subscription model called Creative Cloud. Revenue shrank 8 percent that year and stayed flat the following year; then something interesting happened: Last fiscal-year revenue was $5.9 billion, and 80 percent of that was from subscriptions.
Prior to going all in, Adobe had realized less than 5 percent of its revenue from subscription services. But, since the company crossed the point of no return in 2013, subscriptions to its Creative Cloud have generated a 44 percent increase in its revenue.
The idea of being all in and crossing the point of no return is as old as humanity. In 207 BC, Qin dynasty warlord Xiang Yu had his troops cross the river and deliberately sink their boats at the battle of Julu. Julius Caesar had his army cross the Rubicon river in 49 BC; and perhaps most famously, the 16th century Spanish conquerer Hernán Cortés ordered his troops to burn their boats upon landing in Mexico. They were all, all-in, and they all succeeded because the choice was simply to succeed or die. Literally.
While your own journey may not be of the life-or-death variety, your level of commitment still certainly holds the key to victory.
What do you need to do to commit to a point of no return for your business? Think about it. Because, when you totally commit yourself to crossing the point of no return, amazing results are possible and the marketplace will reward you.