How often are we playing our game at half speed?

No, I’m not talking about playing lazy or ‘mailing it in’.

I’m talking about holding back our absolute best…

I’m talking about the times when we’re on the field, fully prepared, and have the skills to get the job done – yet we don’t go all in.  We play timid… we play scared.

What causes it?

Hesitation, self-doubt, fear of failure, maybe even fear of success?

Whatever it is, we may think we are still in the game by showing up and playing at half speed… playing it safe. Yet in reality we are holding ourselves and those around us back from truly accomplishing great things.

Today we all need to take a look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are playing our game – our job – our life, at full speed – or are we holding back somewhere?

If that answer is no – that we aren’t playing at full speed – then let today be the day that we make the choice to elevate our game and start playing at full speed in all areas of our life.


This concept of playing at half speed came roaring back to me a couple of weeks ago during one of my Leadership Coaching Training sessions.

Our instructor played us a YouTube video of a couple guys street luging – worth googling – quite the adrenaline rush from the looks of it.

During the interview in the video, one of the street luge guys said something profound around fear…

Actually, after looking for the quote, it turns out he was referencing the following quote from Point Break:

“Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will make your worst dreams come true.”

-Bohdi (played by Patrick Swayze)

That quote and the implications of fear and hesitation threw me back to my football days and to a message that was echoed by all of my coaches from Pop Warner through Varsity…

It was the message and warning to never play at anything less than full speed.

Not only will your performance suffer, but you are actually more likely to get hurt.

It stopped me in my tracks and really made me think… am I playing less than full speed in different areas of my life? If so, how am I hurting myself or others?

Reflecting on my performances recently… I know I’m not playing at full speed everywhere that I can be…

And playing at half speed when your opponent is playing at full speed does not bode well for you – regardless of whether we are talking about contact sports or life.

Go Full Throttle – Every Single Play

We must challenge ourselves to give 100% on each and every play.

I’m not advocating running ourselves ragged day in and day out. But what I am challenging us to do is to be all in on anything that we choose to do in our life.

Going full speed and being all in isn’t just reserved for our professional or sports lives. Go full speed when it comes to family time, vacations, relaxation, recovery, fitness, nutrition, and time with friends.

Go all out, be fully present, and commit to being in the moment and giving your full self. That’s the core of playing at full speed in all areas of our life.

Getting back to the contact sport reference, If we are doing anything meaningful in life, then we will have opponents and they will be eager to blindside us when we aren’t looking.

By giving our all, and being all in, we create the best opportunities for ourselves and our team to succeed in all that we set out to do.

Here are some key lessons to remind us why we need to put the fears, hesitation and doubts aside and commit to playing at full speed.

Playing not to lose is not playing to win

How many times have you watched a sporting event and witnessed what you thought was a team having the game in hand only to watch them let a victory slip away.

It’s that overconfidence and complacency that convinces a team they can take the foot off the gas and stop putting in their best effort.

That may work when the other team throws in the towel, but for those teams that remain hungry and focused on their goal, they will take full advantage of a team that is playing to not lose.

Even when things are going great, when we feel like nothing can stop us and our relationships are firing on all cylinders, don’t take your foot off the gas.  Stay hungry, stay focused, stay committed and play to win.

Fully commit, don’t walk the fence

Another factor that keeps us from playing at full speed in life is a failure to fully commit to the task, goal or opportunity that stands in front of us.  Do we want to jump into the deep end or just splash around in the kiddy pool?

Some of us may fear what can happen if we don’t succeed while others might fear all the additional pressure, spotlight and expectations if we do succeed.

All of that can translate into us not giving our all and being a fence walker.  So, let’s not forget that there is no such thing as failure, and we can and will rise to level of handling the new pressures, excelling in the spotlight, and meeting the new expectations when we do ultimately succeed – that’s what growth is all about!

Lean into fear

If we are face to face with a challenge and feel a sense of fear in our gut, then we know we are in the right place.

If there wasn’t any fear, then more than likely we aren’t doing something that actually means something to us.

Those nerves are a reminder that the blood, sweat and tears we put into this endeavor were worth the investment.  It’s a reminder that we are on the right path.

Step into the fear and embrace the moment.  If we make the decision to step up and be all in, then we will achieve our reward and what scared us when we started won’t scare us anymore.

Run full speed into your growth edge

It’s the point of discomfort where the real change starts to happen.  Get comfortable being uncomfortable… and embrace the opportunity to push your limits and grow.

If everything feels easy when you are playing your game then you aren’t playing the right game at the right level.  Playing at half speed may work for you, but there is so much lost potential…

When you can start to pull back on the throttle and keep winning, then you know it’s time to up your game and take it to the next level.

Don’t revel in dominating at the Junior Varsity level when you have the opportunity to evolve your game on Varsity.

Give your best to the world

In closing, I’d like to wrap this up with a sentiment I’ve repeated throughout several other posts.

Give your best… give your talents… and give your gifts to the world and those around you.

By giving anything less that 100%, you are short changing yourself, and more importantly those around you.  Maybe they are your teammates, or those in the organization you work for.  Or perhaps they are your family and friends.

We all have the opportunity and responsibility to live the best version of ourselves and thereby make a positive impact in the world around us.

I truly believe we have so much to give and urge each and every one of us to recommit to playing at full speed each and every day and in all aspects of our life.

Ready to make that commitment? Good! Now let’s get out there and shock the world.

Discussion Question:  What is one area of your life where you are consistently playing at half speed?  How can you recommit to bringing your game and performance back up to full speed?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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