Early in the movie Tommy Boy, “Big Tom Callahan” is trying to convince the bank to give him a loan for a major business expansion. He tells the banker, “In business, you’re either growing or you’re dying. There ain’t no third direction.” And he’s right. Anyone who has worked a day in their life knows that a business can’t sustain itself if their line remains flat. And a business certainly can’t survive if the line goes downward.

And I am writing today to take this a step further: your life.

While it may not be as drastic as losing your company, you can and will lose your passion and focus if this question is not answered in the affirmative each and every day.

All in on life

I played tennis in high school. I started my career near the bottom of the junior varsity ladder. I had a lot to learn about the game and hard work. But I slowly worked my way up to No. 6 by the start of my senior campaign. And it wasn’t easy. The people ahead of me had earned their positions, but some of them took it for granted. Sure, they did work, but not always as hard and sometimes even half-assed practices. I never did that. When I was on the court, I always came to work and get better.

Playing on that team is one of my fondest memories and it is because of the lessons I take with me, especially from my wonderful coach, John McKay. He pushed us ridiculously hard for a boy’s tennis team. But I’m glad he did. He made me a better player and a better person.

But I remember one practice in particular one of the five people ranked above me was not trying in practice and it was terribly obvious. When we met each other in line, I called him out. It didn’t have much impact because I was lower on the line, but I stood my ground. Sure, I took it seriously, but I firmly believe anything worth doing is worth doing right.

In sports, and in life, I believe if you half-ass practice, the performance will be the same. And that quite simply is a waste of time and talent.

So, I’m taking this lesson from Gary Hirshberg and trying to ask myself each and every day, “Are you in, or are you out?

If you’re in, go all in. Double-down. Bet the house.

photo via malico