Monday, October 22, 2007

You have to know when to hold 'em... Know when to fold 'em...

As we grow older the answers to the most difficult questions seemingly come to us with greater ease. Yet, when it comes to risk, I'm not sure the deliberation process is any simpler or any clearer. When do you push your chips to the middle of the table? When do you go for it on fourth down? When do you tell the hitter to swing on a three ball - no strike count? To the outsider, the answers seem obvious: Let it ride. Go for it. Look for your pitch and let her rip... Yet, the game is much more complex when you have everything to win and even more to lose.

We all want to win big, but not all of us are willing to lose big. Everyone wants the million dollar idea, but they're not all willing to stray from their path to make it a reality. Every guy stares at the beautiful girl at the bar, but most aren't willing to face the fear of rejection. Every hitter wants to hit the game winning home run on a 3-2 pitch, but it's easier to pray for the walk. Life is this simple - if you want to win big, you need to prepare yourself to lose big. If you're not willing to lose it all, then accept that road more often travelled has clear and defined destinations.

Unfortunately, the question is not as simple as "are you willing to lose it all?" Any gambler knows that you're going to lose some great bets, and you're going to win some stupid ones. In life, however, we're risking more than chips, more than money, more than pride. We're gambling with our futures - careers for dreams, stability for memories, friendship for love... So how do we "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em"?

It's so easy to recognize that we have to do it. It's so easy to see it in ourselves that we need to do more than follow the trail. How do we decide any loss is worth what we can possibly gain? How do we truly tell ourselves that what we have can be lost? Most of us are not alone in this life. The consequences of our actions fall on the shoulders of those closest to us. Their confidence, their faith, their care makes it even more difficult for us to turn away the satisfactory in the hope of something greater.

Part of me feels obligated to risk it all. How many people took a chance on me? It's easy to remember the people that chance their stakes on us and succeed, but how many have we let down over the years? I'm confident that in the end it balances out, but it still obligates us take a chance for those that took a chance for us.

I'm at an intersting juncture, and I feel that I'm not alone. I know what I want from life, here and now. I mean everything. I have the vision for the road to those dreams, but I also see the potential failures along the way, and they are abundant. I find myself convincing myself to move forward with the following logic: No regrets. "You can't win what you don't put in the pot". Pick your moment, and don't look back. Most importantly, even if all is lost, you still have people you care about, people who care about you, and hope that life will still offer you another shot at the title.

Since I'm a big fan of quotes and sports, I think the following quote from one of my favorite movies offers an appropriate conclusion.

"Either you define the moment, or the moment defines you." ~ Kevin Costner, Tin Cup