All In

You’ve likely heard about Yvon Chouinard’s recent decision to transfer his ownership of his company, Patagonia, into a “Purpose Trust,” with the proceeds going to fight climate change.

As a strategist, two elements of this decision stand out to me: go all in, on a few things.

Clayton Christensen is the likely source of the statement, “100% is far easier than 98%.” When I first heard that, it stopped me in my tracks. My friend and colleague Chad Littlefield recently encouraged a group of us to consider “where can you proceed without hesitation?” Indecisiveness, or almost-all-in-ness, is tiring.

And in a recent conversation with Jim Moss and Dave Whiteside of WorkWell, they noted that clear and few priorities, linked to purpose, are an effective way to address overwhelm and promote wellbeing at work. In developing new strategic plans with clients recently, I find myself encouraging them to concentrate their efforts behind fewer and fewer goals. Focus and clarity are excellent antidotes to uncertainty.

Mr. Chouinard put 100% of his ownership behind one cause. I’m sure he considered keeping a portion of it. Or contributing to solving a range of pressing planetary issues, much as Bill Gates has done. But what makes his approach particularly notable is that he went all in on one thing.

As someone who prefers to think of life as a buffet, this is a hard lesson for me. When prone to spreading myself too thin, 98% seems pretty good! But when I actually pay attention, 98% leaves space for hesitation. Wiggle room. I want that, but it doesn’t serve me well.

Where might you need to shift 98 to 100?

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