Don't Play The All or Nothing Game

A few nights ago, while surfing the late-night television offerings, I found myself entranced by a rather astute looking, young man giving all he had as he delivered an incredibly passionate speech. The topic of his speech was civil rights, and it was being televised by C-SPAN. In the bottom, right-hand corner of the television, the name of the speaker was displayed as "Jesse Jackson, Jr., Rep. Illinois." I quickly realized I was listening to the 36 year-old son of civil rights activist, Reverend Jesse Jackson. It caught my attention because I didn't even know Rev. Jackson had a son, let alone that his son was a U.S. Congressman for the state of Illinois. The young Congressman Jackson spoke eloquently, authoritatively and passionately. With the television camera focused only on him, I couldn't see his audience, but I imagined him to be speaking to hundreds or maybe thousands of people. He spoke without notes, and his words flowed smoothly. His thoughts were clear, concise and respectful. He confidently addressed questions from the press as passionately as he delivered his speech. As Congressman Jackson completed his remarks, and the host thanked him for his time, the C-SPAN camera began to "pan out" and take in a wider view of the room in which Mr. Jackson gave his speech. Within seconds, the camera showed the entire room. As it turned out, the audience I imagined to number in the hundreds or thousands was actually about 4 people, as well as about a half dozen members of the press. A total of only 10 people sat before Congressman Jackson as he passionately poured out his heart and soul to them! At first, I was amazed that Congressman Jackson could get himself so "in the zone" for such a small audience. It made me think how discouraged I might feel if I were to give a speech and only 10 people showed up to hear me. Then it hit me . . . I was guilty . . . Caught red-handed . . . I caught myself playing the "all or nothing" game. Maybe you know this game. It's when I tell myself there are only certain times I can put myself "out there" completely, passionately and authentically. Usually, it's only when the stakes are high and the game is big. Or I can only be totally who I am in certain situations or with certain people. I'm a master at the game. I know exactly where, when and with whom I can totally be who I really am and speak my truth with the same passion, authority and eloquence as did Congressman Jackson. I know the game well. I also know - and too often forget - the "all or nothing" game is one big illusion. The reality is as author Richard Bach writes: "Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a fake messiah." Further, the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson suggest: "No matter what your work, let it be your own. No matter what your occupation, let what you are doing be organic. Let it be in your bones. In this way you will open the door by which the affluence of heaven and earth shall stream into you." To me, the message is clear. Be myself. Completely. Always. Speak my truth. Passionately. Authoritatively. We get to the "big game" only by giving our all in the "little games." If we don't play "all out" when the stakes are low, can we really believe we will when the stakes are high? General Electric CEO Jack Welch was recently asked by a Fairfield University Business School student what advice he could give regarding a successful business career in today's world. His reply, which he repeated 3 times, was simply: "be yourself." Do you play? The "all or nothing" game - do you ever play it? Take a good, hard look at your life. If so, these words - again from Richard Bach - are cause for contemplation: "Every person, all the events of your life, are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you." See, what I believe is that each moment presents us with an opportunity. It's the opportunity to authentically and passionately express the totality of all that's within us. All that we've been created to be. The Creator yearns for it. Begs for it. Waits for us to be all (s)he's created us to be. That's the real game. The biggest game. Those are the highest stakes. That's when we're most fulfilled. Most complete. Most abundant. The world waits for it. Just as the world waited for other great leaders. Leaders like Jesus Christ, The Buddha, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Theresa and Winston Churchill to name a few. The world is waiting for YOU. So, don't play the "all or nothing" game. Be yourself. Always. Speak your truth. Passionately. Authoritatively. Give all of who you are. In each moment. It's Your Life! Make it Great.