All-In is a choice that only you can make. When you choose to go All-In, your life will improve because you will begin to make decisions and take actions that advance you towards your goals. Going All-In is simple, but it’s by no means easy. We designed All-In as a tool to give you, the student athlete, dozens of shortcuts and ideas so that you can program yourself to achieve whatever is important to you.
If you’ve dreamed about success in athletics and about becoming the best you can be in life, All-In is for you. Study the chapters of this book, and you will hear messages from top performers from many different fields and historical periods. A common theme is that you alone are responsible for yourself -- and it’s your belief system and thinking that will determine your success. Some readers may be offended by the blunt truths of these messages that can sound harsh and allow no excuses. That’s good. When this happens, internalize the message immediately, as it will shorten your path to success.
The All-In messages and lessons are organized around “5 Pillars” and a simple approach to live your life: Commit with Honor to be Smart, Strong, and Respectful. The 5 Pillars (Commitment, Honor, Smart, Strong, and Respectful) are broad principles that can be adapted to whatever you value most, which are your individual values. Principles are connected to your values through your actions, and your actions are largely determined by your belief system and thinking. The 5 Pillars and the related principles need to reflect values that you really believe in, so you must figure out how to make them work for you, which will be a very personal process.
- Smart pertains to the decisions you make every day. Great players are consistent and are often recognized as “students of the game”. When talent is equal, the competitor that is better prepared mentally has the winning advantage. Being Smart often requires only a little extra time and effort, but the results can be dramatic.
- Strong pertains to your physical body and mental capacity. Toughness is a category of strength, and as Alex Karras said, “Toughness is in the soul and spirit…not in muscles.” A laser focus on developing physical and mental strength provides a foundation to develop skills and techniques for maximum results in athletics and life.
- Respectful pertains to respect for yourself, others, and your specific sport or occupation. When addressing their team, many coaches will reference Respect within their first ten words. Respect exposes your character by the way you conduct yourself in victory and defeat. Respect will also determine your standards of behavior and how you interact with your teammates, coaches, and other people in your life.
- Commitment is best summed up by Pat Riley when he said, “There are only two options regarding Commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.” Once you’ve made an All-In commitment to a team or cause, any scores, records, or individual honors will always feel like a hollow second place.
- Honor is the ultimate referee in measuring your success and it encompasses all of the other four pillars. Honor implies being true to your personal values and ideals and being a person of integrity who can overcome fear and take action. Aristotle said, “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”
All-In will upgrade your belief system and thinking to help you develop the best version of yourself where you will never stop competing. By studying messages from some of the worlds’ thought leaders and champion athletes, you will be able to accelerate your pace of learning by learning from the success of others. Consistently connect the 5 Pillars to your values and your life will improve. You may never become a professional athlete, but by going All-In, you will become the very best you can be.
The good news is that All-In thinking is highly transferable to all areas of your life. We believe that success in just about anything requires hard work, discipline, and perseverance, but working smart is just as important. Increasingly, leading companies seek to hire people that were competitive athletes. They know that someone who is smart, strong, and respectful is also disciplined and hardworking, and will usually find a way to win.
All-In thinking enables you to live a life of balance where whatever happens is okay. When this occurs, your personal peace and happiness are no longer controlled by outside circumstances and events. In effect, you learn to not resist and accept things the way they are. Letting whatever happens be okay does not mean that you don’t have goals and preferred outcomes that you work towards. It simply means that you accept what you can’t control, which frees you to live a life driven by mental, emotional, and spiritual self-empowerment. It’s no surprise that when athletes stop worrying about winning (something outside of their control) they empower themselves to improve by focusing on skill development. Do you want a happier life? Then align your values with your thinking, actions, and behaviors and go All-In.
Although we proudly present the All-In 5 Pillars and tell you to Commit with Honor to be Smart, Strong, and Respectful, we know there are many times that we fall pitifully short of such high standards. That’s okay, as perfection is not possible. When we fail, we simply get up from the floor, dust off, and get back to work. We learn from our mistakes and press on. So don’t be overly hard on yourself as you work to master the 5 Pillars. Although they can be learned rapidly, you will likely discover that it takes time and repetition. You too will find yourself slipping up over and over. Let that be okay and turn to the 5 Pillars whenever you face hard choices.
Now it’s up to you. Don’t be afraid. Start now and make the choice to go All-In.
- Joe Behm and Andy Smith
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