Going “All-In”

In poker the concept of going “all-in” means you put everything you have into one bet. Its high risk because you might lose it all.. …but maybe you win!

Thinking about “life” and personal effectiveness, I’ve recently got it into my head that I should start going all in… What does this mean?


We’ve only got one life, right? Everyday we do what we do, hoping it will make us happy. But many of us don’t do what we REALLY WANT TO DO. We don’t do what brings us flow or what is truly in-line with our most awesome vision of who we are and what we want out of life. At the end of the day, week, month, holiday, year (life, whatever) we find ourselves saying “Oh, I wish I’d done that” or “I should have spent more time doing that”.


To counter this problem, you can do 3 very specific things that I do to help me go “all-in” :


Write your own personal vision/mission statement

My own mission statement is called “my most awesome vision of who I am, what I believe and what I want”. I tend to revise it most when I’m not happy, but always take a moment each summer (during holidays) to think it through again. I’m not going to share it here, its personal. What I can say is that when I read it I get a sensation of “Yes I can”, filled with the joy of wanting more out of life and motivated, ready to get to action.

To be successful with your own vision/mission statement, include the following elements:

  • What you think is a good life
  • What you believe is most important in order to be happy
  • How you want to be spending your time, in terms of the different roles you have
  • One or 2 wildly important life goals


Create a dream-list *

“Begin with the end in mind”, “You get more of what you concentrate on”, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”, “SMART objectives” etc… We’ve all heard it before time and time again .. and its true: You have to set objectives in personal life, just as you do at work.

Today, my dreamlist has 47 items on it, ranging from spending 3 months in India with my wife (not kids) to skydiving and creating a Beatles rock band. It doesn’t matter what’s on your list as long as it inspires you and doesn’t go again your personal vision/mission statement.

To create a good dream-list:

  • Start by noting anything you want to do, have or be
  • Add to it any time you get an idea of something you want to do, have or be
  • Don’t “filter” your dreams or say “this is silly” – just add it

…then take action. Any action! For example, I want to do a motorcycle road-trip in the mountains with my father. I’ve no idea when, how, how long etc but I don’t worry about that. I just focus on taking the next concrete action (something I learnt from David Allen and blogged about here ) and move forward. So we set a date. When I’m ready for the next concrete action, I’ll do that… eventually I will have done it. Don’t forget: Even a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step 🙂

* Thank you again @tferriss for this inspiration, via the book “Four Hour Work Week



..or as Justin Bieber might say “Never say never” 🙂

If you are going to be happy, live your dreams and go “all-in” you have to believe that things are possible. Sometimes this is difficult. We think of something we want to be, have or do and then all the doubt comes flooding in: What if it all goes wrong? Do I really want this? Will it work?

I like to remember a simple phrase from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” (which is all about going “all-in”):

“When there was doubt I ate it up and spat it out”.



Good luck!

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Getting more FLOW (24 more ideas from trainees)

In a previous post, I listed the initiatives that training participants came up with for creating and maintaining more FLOW in the organisation. This post follows-up with 24 more ideas in 5 concrete FLOW  areas …


To get more FLOW, be sure everyone has a clear mission

  • Take the time to translate core company objectives/mission into each person’s function, especially when dealing with change or restructuring
  • As an individual, ask questions regularly to better understand how you align to the company vision/mission/values


…people need quality feedback if they are going to get in FLOW

  • Recognise and share success stories within the organisation
  • Talk about personal FLOW with own managers in status-updates or other regular meetings
  • Ask for regular feedback on your work


Teamwork and communication can help to build “self-worth” and success

  • Implement (or at least discuss) a “code of conduct” with colleagues that respects individuals’ FLOW needs
  • Ask for help from colleagues when you are out of FLOW
  • Inform your colleagues about your “high-energy” moments so that a) they know that that’s a good time for you to be working on most-important tasks; b) they will respect your need for concentration at those times
  • Avoid “indirect communications” – phone-calls and instant messaging in faster and more effective than email (but… see the part on “concentration”)
  • Learn how to say (and hear!) “NO” to (from) colleagues
  • Have time-keepers in meetings in order to help people stick to their personal priorities


Boost concentration at key moments

  • Turn-off email pop-ups .. or better still: CHoose when to read them
  • Close the door
  • Find a “quiet room”
  • Use ear plugs 🙂
  • Designate a room for conf-calls, rather than letting everyone on the floor follow the call !
  • Take the time to set priorities well … and stick to them
  • Install home-working possibilities for high-importance/high-concentration task moments
  • Organise office space by function


Find your balance between challenge and skills

  • Use job-rotation schemes to avoid bore-out
  • Create a strengths-matrix so that people know where to turn for help on specific topics
  • Hire more people (to avoid burn-out)
  • Decrease workload – outsource what is possible, even within your own organisation; drop useless activities/chores
  • Identify people who are bored and give them more of the work of people who are overloaded


Thanks for reading!


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Creating Strategic Action in 4 Steps

This blog post has been written as support for homework for participants from my training on “Creating Influence”.

…but the exercise described below is an excellent approach to defining strategic action for any mission you may undertake.


First, let’s describe “strategic action”

How is strategic action different to normal action? It considers one’s current position in close relationship to the mission. In this way, strategic action is focussed on high level priority-driven steps that are more likely to get us to where we want to be.

Example: Suppose I want to complete an IronMan race. I might be inclined to imagine that swim-training is the best action to undertake. But if I first do a good strategic positioning exercise, I might realise that my priority is in fact to first develop my business offer in order to earn more more so that I can liberate more time for training. If I don’t do this, I will have to a) squeeze in training in an already busy schedule and b) end up paying divorce costs due to marital negligence 🙂


Ready to think strategic??


STEP 1: Start by defining your mission

There is no sense in doing a positioning exercise if you don’t know what you are trying to achieve.

Example: If I ask you if I am strong, depending on what objective you imagine me working on, you may come up with completely different answers…

When defining your mission, be sure to use quality goals. Read my other blog post on PERSONAL goal-setting for some starter ideas..


STEP 2: …then assess your current position

One of my favourite tools for doing this remains the SWOT analysis. A good SWOT will give you ideas on recurring themes for improvement. Note: I said a GOOD SWOT !


Another tool I really like regarding personal influence is the network influence-grid proposed by Jo Owen in his book “How to Influence“. He suggests that for all the people in your network, you need to assess them in terms of whether or not you have a good relationship with them and whether or not they have power (to help you in your mission). A network influence-grid therefore has 4 quadrants…


When the people you know are mapped out in their relevant quadrants, you will better focus on people who are realy useful (top-right) or think about how to better leverage the existing relationships you have to get what you need.


STEP 3: Now, look for priority areas for action

I find that if I have done a good job of assessing my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, when I look at the results there are recurring and linking themes. These are the things to work on. Don’t worry about action yet, just look at which things seem to come back and back.

For example, in my last SWOT exercise I saw that:

  • My network was very complete
  • …but that I wasn’t using it well enough
  • I have great references for training work
  • …but never ask for referrals
  • There was an opportunity to better develop my own client base

An obvious priority strategic action: Leverage own network.


STEP 4: When your priorities are clear, plan baby steps

I am finally reading “Getting Things Done” by David Allen right now. One of my clients said it was a great book, but I thought: What else could there be to learn about priority management? In the first 10 pages I had my answer:

Turn unmanageable TO-DO lists into “next concrete action” (baby-steps) lists.


In the scope of our exercise, this means asking 2 questions for each of the priority strategic actions noted previously:

  • What would be an ACCEPTABLE outcome?
  • What is the NEXT CONCRETE ACTION you need to take?


If you’ve followed the 4 steps ahead, you should have some good ideas to get moving with.


Good luck!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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