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All-Or-Nothing Is Whack. It’s Your Resistance Talking. Stop Listening.

April 28, 2011

Like the “Go Big Or Go Home” mentality, All-Or-Nothing is a foray in extremes.

It’s clichéd conventional wisdom that tells you to take a bigger risk in order to experience a bigger pay-off, right now.

It belittles incremental steps towards a goal in favor for grand and sweeping gestures. While that’s awfully cinematic (imagine this great big leap in the montage of your life), it’s also excellently skewed.

Here’s the thing: I used to subconsciously subscribe to the all-or-nothing mentality. If I couldn’t excel immediately, then I didn’t try it.

I wasn’t into steep learning curves. I wanted it all, right away.

This is because I used to equate mistakes with failure. I took failure personally. Failing at one task (even a small thing) meant that I was, and would always be, a failure.

Ever since I became aware of my all-or-nothing attitude, I haven’t been able to shake what I experientially know to be true.

Instant mastery is impossible.

True mastery takes practice. Devotion. Training. Think of the young piano protégé who spends hours honing her skills.

The journey towards crazy-skilled level of genius is fraught with stumbles and breakthroughs. The learning process is, and will always be, deeply humbling.

Mastery requires vulnerability, openness and earnestness. It recognizes imperfection in order to move towards perfection. It is cumulative.

When given the choice, I go home. Going big isn’t my thing. It’s not that I’m risk averse, but rather that I know some big goals depend upon a series of small actions.

When all-or-nothing creeps into my consciousness, I recognize it for what it is: Resistance. A reason to quit before I start.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2011 9:42 pm

    I needed this. Thanks, lady.

    • April 28, 2011 10:10 pm

      🙂 Big hugs and support for whatever you’re working on, D.

  2. April 28, 2011 10:06 pm

    I love this!! I felt this “When given the choice, I go home.” I go home too. I have an all-or-nothing thing that I wrestle with as well, but when the choice is to go big or go home, I think of big as over the top, super intense in a not likeable way, maybe even bullyish/abusive (whether to self or others). That doesn’t resonate with me.

    How you’ve articulted this makes that feel very ok!

    • April 28, 2011 10:09 pm

      I hear ya, Jen. In my head, I almost always hear the phrase as a taunt from a group of loud aggressive guys, and that ain’t my scene. I’d much prefer to go home in that scenario. I love that you get bullyish/abusive vibes from it too — I’m not the only one!!

  3. April 29, 2011 1:19 am

    This came at a great moment. And I love that you helped me connect my all-or-nothing- thoughts with resistance.

    I always think in black and white, not only when I’m resisting something, but all the time. I’m working on it.

    In the meantime, and I’m experiencing A LOT of resistance at the moment, I’m going to dig in, lean into it and be curious about how the b&w thinking is affecting my resistance.

    • May 1, 2011 10:21 pm

      I hear you, Marthe. How’s the digging in going? xoxo.

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