The Benefits of Playing Full Out

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.

A Man Jumping with a Bungee Cord - Photo courtesy of ©, Image #10013408

Photo courtesy of ©

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Question: What meeting or project are you about to participate in where you could benefit from playing full out? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Want to launch your own blog or upgrade to self-hosted WordPress? Watch my free, twenty-minute screencast. I show you exactly how to do it. You don’t need any technical knowledge. Click here to get started.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are snarky, offensive, or off-topic. If in doubt, read My Comments Policy.

  • Cofletcher

    Thanks for “playing full out” this past week Michael…you were true to your own encouragement

  • Christian Ray Flores

    The gift of presence is the best gift to have. Good reminder. By the way, I am enjoying the Andy Andrews book The Final Summit.

    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 13.0px Georgia}

  • Pingback: Favourite Links Friday: 10 fantastic posts to check out! | Shooting the Breeze

  • Ashleigh Allen

    Awesome advice! I’m a new PR account manager and I could definitely benefit from this when I tag along with others to meet clients. I don’t want to overstep my role and boundaries as someone who only has a year in the industry, but I think it would benefit my career and the projects I work on to be play all out all the time–whether that’s being fully engaged as a listener or not being afraid to offer my recommendations if I think I have a good idea.

  • Pingback: Vær fuldt ud til stede – så får du større udbytte | Allan Ohms

  • Anonymous

    More great words! Thanks.
    A few years ago I did several 5 day training weekends in a few months. It was very intensive. It taught me this same lesson – to get the most out of any experience, I need to play all out!
    As a result, my passion increased everywhere. I worship, teach, parent, speak, write and coach at a higher level of engagement.
    Now, I am learning to apply more of this to my own life. Thees words are helpful in that process.

  • Pingback: motivational monday: full out | Lorie Kaufman Rees

  • Adonis Lenzy

    As always, Great words Michael. Definitely going to act on this. Enjoyed the CFAleadercast and keeping up with you and @gailhyatt during the event.

  • Brandon Weldy

     I was just thinking about this the other day. I was thinking about being “fully present” and how often I’m not. I allow myself excuses, such as, “I’m tired,” or “I’ve been working really hard to get ready for graduation.” But by not being fully present I have missed out on so much and I recently decided that was not happening anymore. 

  • Pingback: Three Potentially Powerful Phrases | scribbles

  • Pingback: Career and Life Advice – 5.13.11 | Sam Davidson

  • Danny Johnson

     I’m going to NAPFA National this week with NetDocuments so good advice as I head out there. 

  • Pingback: Causil » Archive » Mid-May Checkup

  • Pingback: Confession #55: I have five goals for Catalyst Dallas | Jeremy Statton's Confessions of a Legalist

  • Pingback: Confession #55: I have five goals for Catalyst Dallas | Confessions of a Legalist

  • Pingback: Thursday Quote: Michael Hyatt’s Blog | Transforming Leader

  • Kevin R. Collins


  • Kevin R. Collins

    Thanks for the advice.  I am looking forward to the conference.  Our leadership team at RTS in Orlando read it together and I wanted to come and learn more.  I think this conference can help me help our campus build a solid platform.  Any advice for a seminary would be greatly appreciated!  Blessings, brother!

  • BradyBeshear

    I am headed to Nashville next week for the Platform Conference — AND planning to play full out!

  • Pingback: How to make the most of conferences and meetings

  • Pingback: Getting ready to learn about prenatal testing and supporting parents at the Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action conference — Down Syndrome Prenatal Testing

  • Carlos

    I am going to a 4 day seminar and was totally resistant. The last 2 days have been torture (to nobody but myself). Thank you for the encouraging words.

  • Ree Klein

    Great advice, Michael, I plan on “playing full out” at your 2013 SCORRE conference! Thanks for the opportunity to grow :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Great. I look forward to meeting you, Ree.