Two weeks ago, I completed a long-time goal of mine… the Grand Traverse. The Grand Traverse is, in short, one of the toughest, yet most spectacular adventures in the Tetons. It’s comprised of 10 summits, +/- 13 miles of distance, and +/- 14,000 feet of elevation gain. Most of the three day adventure occurs above 11,000 feet. It is a test of endurance, technical skill, and, perhaps most of all, mindset (Outside Magazine captures the adventure in a great article entitled “Grand Slammed”).

Like everything that’s hard in life, in business, in the mountains, and on the battlefield, there are points along the Grand Traverse where it’s easy to ask yourself “What was I thinking?” or “Is this worth it?”. There are points where fear sets in (knowing there’s nothing but a small rope between you and a fall of thousands of feet). There are points where you begin to doubt your technical ability (when you look at the next pitch covered in water from the melting snow and ice). And, there are points where you think you can’t go any further (when your muscles are exhausted and twitching/cramping).

So, why didn’t I quit? What was it that prevented me from quitting? After all, this was my third attempt at the Traverse… having taken a fall two years ago and been helicoptered out of the mountains, and having had a teammate suffer an illness that prevented us from finishing last year. Quitting would have been easy! Upon completing the traverse this year, I reflected on what it was that kept me going…what it was that ensured I didn’t quit? And, I asked myself, “is that “something” transferable to other parts of my life, my business, and to my clients?” It didn’t take long to answer my own questions. In part, by reflecting on this adventure. But, perhaps more so, by reflecting on other times where, embarrassingly, I threw in the towel. The thing that kept me going most recently in the mountains, but in hindsight, what has always kept me going whenever times get tough (in the Marines, in struggling organizations, in times of family crises, and in life) was mindset. More specifically, what I call being “All In”.

So what does “All In” mean? It means you’re committed. It means you’re willing to sacrifice and/or suffer. It means you’re unwilling to tolerate mediocrity. It means that halfway isn’t an option. It means giving everything you have to everything you do… all the time. On the Grand Traverse, I was “All In”.  Sounds easy right? It’s not. Being “All In” is hard. It’s scary. It’s tiring. It’s risky. Which is why finding people and organizations that are “All In” is uncommon. But also why, when you run across those who are “All In”, you know it right away. Whether in the mountains, on the battlefield, or in the boardroom, those who are “All In” are the ones who never quit. It’s not that they never fail…. That’s completely different (people who are “All In” fail often… because they’re willing to take risks). It’s that they never quit!

Which brings me to my point. If you want to succeed at anything, you must be “All In”. And, if you’re on a team, you must surround yourself by others who are “All In” as well. The route to success, like routes in the mountains, is hard. There will be times along the way that you’re tired. There will be times that you doubt your ability. There will be times that you think you want to quit. They key to getting through those times… the anchor along your route… is mindset. It’s being “All In”, and making sure everyone on your team is “All In”. And here’s the best part. It’s totally worth it! The views along the journey to new heights are amazing. So, too, are the experiences, conversations, and relationships with those who are on the journey with you… with those who are also “All In”. Trust me, I have the pictures and, most importantly, the memories to prove it.image3

So here’s my challenge to you. Ask yourself if you’re really “All In” in whatever you’re doing in life and in business right now. Equally important, ask your team if they are “All In”. If so, clarify by asking them what that means to them, and ensuring their definition matches yours. If not, ask them why they’re not and whether or not there’s anything you can do to help them get there.