Are You AIMING to Win, or Avoiding a Loss?

I relearned something this past week I'd like to share.

 

Texas Hold 'em.

You've seen this game of poker on ESPN (the "World Series of Poker") at some point. Well, ESPN2, or 3, or 5. It's the one with the misfit-looking bunch of men (and some women) without a clue how to dress and a penchant for sunglasses and baseball caps to hide their "tells." In the poker world, this is the game of kings. I won't bore you with the details of how its played. You just need to know that luck plays a part but skill is the reason why so many of the same professionals are at the final table of the World Series every year. They play their opponents, not just their cards.

I learned how to play as a replacement to Blackjack. Long story short: I'm pretty good. I don't really gamble, I haven't got the resources or desire to lose huge sums of money, but tournaments are a great way to risk only a small buy-in, such as $25 or $100, for the potential to win something like $300 or $2500.

They're no "World Series" but they require a great deal of skill. In tournaments, many enter, and only one survives. Ok, it's not that dramatic but it's very intense in the moment.

"What's this got to do with LIFE:REVISITED? What's this got to do with changing my Life?"

We're getting there.

At first, I thrived. "Give me your chips now so we can skip to the inevitable conclusion," was my general attitude. I won a lot. So I kept moving up to harder and harder tournaments.

Then, I started hitting a rough patch and couldn't finish a table for my life. I wasn't on cruise control any more. My hot-streak turned Arctic. It started with a couple losses and then turned into a long streak of misery. "It's the cards; they've been horrible for me." "People are so irrational!" "That guy called all-in on a 3-6 offsuit and caught a runner-runner straight!! Are you f(*#)&@* kidding me??"

But then I realized something. Or, really: I just acknowledged something I knew already but couldn't bare to admit: I was playing horribly. I was playing scared. I was trying NOT TO LOSE. 

The moment I said this consciously to myself, I started having fun and started winning again. I started "playing to win." I still lose. It happens. Sometimes it's bad luck, but more often it's because I played poorly. I acknowledge this, and move on. I stay aggressive, smart, and hungry to win. My mindset was everything. It is everything. 

I'm sure you're already making the connection between my experience with poker and changes you can make in your own life. Whether it's in sports, business, or relationships, most of us play "not to lose." This makes us so protective of what we've got, so scared of losing it, that we never gain anything more. And often we still lose it, anyway! 

We all have a choice: Are we happy with what we've created around us, or do we want to create the life that we know we deserve? 

There are a bunch of different ways to start on this path of conscious-creation, but I'd like to share the very powerful understanding I've relearned from Hold 'em:

Take the necessary risks, bounce back from failures quickly, and stay hungry for the next step in creating the life you were born for. I'm not saying don't be happy in the moment. I recommend a sense of gratitude for everything and everyone in your life at this moment. But if you've got that nagging sense that you're not living up to your full potential, and know you are capable of much more, then don't SETTLE for less. And, the only way to keep moving forward is to take the necessary steps. Do what you know you need to do: Risk losing something to gain everything. 

Play to win.