I attend a lot of conferences and meetings. I have noticed that most people play it safe in these settings. They are reserved—arms crossed and skeptical—or simply distracted, hunched over their smartphone. Precious few take the plunge and play full out.
Several years ago, Robert Smith, Andy Andrews’ manager, paid for Gail and me to attend an internationally renowned motivational conference. Though it only lasted four days, it changed our lives. We still feel the impact today.
Before we left for the conference, Robert said, “Look guys, I am thrilled that you are going to this conference. I only ask for one thing: Play full out. Don’t hold back.” We agreed.
That was some of the best advice I have ever received. It served me well—not only at that conference, but in almost every other project.
What does “playing full out” look like?
- Being fully present, undistracted by anything else.
- Stretching yourself, even if it makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable.
- Giving it your best effort, even when you are tired and want to quit.
Why play full out? Here are three significant benefits:
- You bring out the best in others. When you bring you’re A-game to a meeting or project, it has a noticeable impact on others. It raises the bar for everyone. It is especially encouraging to the speaker or facilitator.
- You maximize your own learning experience. When you are fully present in the moment, leaning forward, fully engaged, you absorb and take away more. You can’t do this if you are distracted, stuck in the past or fretting about the future.
- You create the possibility of transformation. Let’s admit it: change is difficult. It is doubly hard when you are half-hearted or not fully committed. But when you are playing full out, you accelerate the rate of change and open up the possibility of real transformation.
This week, Gail and I are attending the Dynamic Communicators Workshop at the WinShape Retreat in Mt. Berry, Georgia. Honestly, it is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I am having to re-learn the basics of public speaking—something I have had a lot of experience doing.
Each day we are required to give a new speech in front of our peers. We are taught, challenged, and critiqued. The days are long and grueling—fourteen hours just today! But we are learning so much. It is unbelievable.
Difficult as it is, Gail and I are committed to playing full out. We want to milk every benefit we can from this amazing experience. We know we will need it in the future.