all or nothing

Three corners in, running in the top five, and a double jump coming up. I hadn’t tried to clear it in practice and was going to roll it, but realized that if anyone behind me went for it they would land on me. Too late, I twisted the throttle, but came up short. The impact from hitting the second jump bounced my motorcycle off the track with me in a handstand over the handlebars. After too many slow motion seconds I augured into the dirt, digging a small trench with my helmet. While I quickly assessed damage, all my competition simply motored away, leaving me behind. Front runner to last place because of a simple lack of commitment.

Ok, not everyone is a motocross fan so let me explain. The example above really did happen and pounded (literally) a lesson into me about commitment. (Don’t worry, I’m getting to the business application.)

Some things we can “sort of” commit to. Or ramp things up just a little bit to test the waters and ease into the pool. Other things require full on cannonball-into-the-pool level of commitment. You can’t ease into it off the diving board. Do or don’t do. A double jump is a series of two jumps just close enough together that you can land on the backside of the second jump. They are also usually close enough that if you don’t jump both you’ll need to take the first jump much slower than normal to be able to safely approach the face of the second jump. So there are really only two safe choices: approach it as a double jump or approach it as two single jumps in a row. There is no in-between; there is no easing up to it. It’s back off and slow down or go for it.

This step up in commitment from small to large with no middle ground shows up in real life. Starting your own business, commission sales, moving from a home business to a regular retail space, becoming a manager, entering new markets, launching new products, starting a family, etc. are all actions that require an intense level of commitment. To do it half-way is to crash horribly, burning up resources without succeeding. They all require full on, full out levels of commitment and the enthusiasm, knowledge, and skill required to clear the gap.

That level of commitment is way outside the comfort zone. With it, you may still crash. Without it, you will definitely crash. A very real danger is that as you approach the moment of truth, there is the chance to hesitate, to back off, get spooked and try to do it half-way.

I’ve seen plenty of racers leave in an ambulance because they committed to something they didn’t have the skill to pull off, so I can’t say that every opportunity is the right opportunity for you to commit to. There is a difference between stretching and being stupid. I can say that in many situations you either have to commit to going slow or commit to going full out. The gap makes going medium far more dangerous than the other options.

At least, that’s what the deep gouges in my helmet suggest.

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