The War on Apathy Continues …

by  Mike Henry  |  Leadership Development

We have seen the enemy…

Do you ever get tired of going through the motions?

You know what I mean. In a bit of passive aggression, we give less than our best because our heart is just not in the activity.  We do what we have to and no more.  Can you think of times when you’ve done this? (Be honest!)

Well, I’ve done it and I’ll probably do it again, but I’d like to confess that I hate it.  The struggle isn’t in the project or the work, but in my heart.  Why would I do a good job at something I like and a poor job at something I don’t like?  You might say that’s only human nature.


Beginning today, let’s be more careful when making commitments. Let’s be people who honor our commitments with our best effort.  Every commitment.  Therefore, we must be more careful what we commit to because when we’re committed, we’re “all in.”

All In

Being “all in” as is commonly stated in Texas Hold ’em means that if we lose, we lose everything. There is no plan B. Often the difference between victory and defeat, success and failure is the pure will and commitment of the champion. Many a weaker team has overtaken a stronger one on nothing more than heart and extra effort.

Nothing To Lose

Do you remember the movie The Replacements with Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman?  The story is about the replacement players who got an opportunity to play professional football because the real pros went on strike.

One of my favorite lines in the movie takes place at halftime in the final game.  Coach Jimmy McGinty played by Gene Hackman, tells the team just what they need to hear to make a miraculous comeback:

Up until now Dallas hasn’t been afraid of you, and they should be because you have a powerful weapon working for you. There is no tomorrow for you, and that makes you all very dangerous people!

Sure, The Replacements is fiction.  But we all love it when the underdog pulls off the big upset. We’re all underdogs in one way or another.  Who would think that one person can make a difference?  You’re only one person, what can you do?


Remember, there is no one more dangerous than someone with nothing to lose.  Decide today that you’re going to make a positive difference in your world no matter what the cost. The strength of your commitment becomes the fuel for your launch.

And don’t invest any more than is absolutely necessary in plan B. Forget plan B. Consider plan B as a failure of plan A.  Failure isn’t necessarily bad; we all fail at times.  But failure becomes inevitable the moment you plan for it.

Our previous post we introduced the idea of being at war with apathy.


What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Michael Leiter  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply

I like the commitment after careful consideration, esp when it includes consulting with other people in the mix and reflecting on core values.
I’m not sure about downgrading Plan B.

First, when working with others and providing care for others (I work primarily with health care providers) definitive action holds risk for their wellbeing. There is something to lose and it goes beyond whatever you have personally on the line.

Second, you can’t fully anticipate everything. Real leadership requires monitoring for the unexpected, listening to others’ points of view, accommodating culture perspectives that differ from whatever you brought along.

So, I prefer a full, enthusiastic commitment that is open to experience and mindful of whatever might happen and ready to adapt in the face of the evidence.

Just a thought
.-= Michael Leiter´s last blog ..twitter =-.

Mike Henry  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply

Thanks Michael for a great perspective. There are always cases where the consequences of failure are too high to be negligent about a plan B. We all should be careful (as you seem to be) to make sure we don’t over-emphasize the consequences of a Plan-A failure.
Thanks again.

Thomas Waterhouse  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply

I like that… “Forget plan B”. My advice to “me” is “count the cost” and then “excellence” until the end. There really is only “Plan A” and I like Michael’s thoughts on “openness to experience” and being “ready to adapt in the face of the evidence”. Thanks!
.-= Thomas Waterhouse´s last blog ..And Now? =-.

Mike Henry  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply

Great point Thomas: Count the cost and then excellence to the end. Let me know where I can order the t-shirt! Thanks.

Dallas Bragg  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply


Thank you for this post because it is confirmation for me on a thought process I had today at work. I have spent years looking for the “right” job. I have wanted to do something with all of my heart once I foun my “niche”. Back in the Spring I found the job of my dreams. After a few months I started feeling unsettled again and could sense that I was not giving my “all”. Today a thought occured to me: Give your all no matter where you are or what you are doing and you’ll feel satisfied and gratified. Your blog has reinforced that in me.

.-= Dallas Bragg´s last blog ..The Dysfunction of Assumptions =-.

Mike Henry  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment Dallas. Isn’t it neat how some of these “coincidences” seem to be so timely. I’m glad this helped you reinforce your commitment.

Lea  |  30 Oct 2009  |  Reply

We should always go with what we like and not force our self to do what we don’t like because of certain conditions if you really want to succeed in what your going to do. This can be compared to getting a job, like you will choose a job even though you don’t like it because of salary. What’s the big salary if you’re not having fun with your work. Maybe it depends to the person as well.

Mike Henry  |  03 Nov 2009  |  Reply

Lea, thanks for your great comment. Typically it’s fear that keeps us from going after what we really want. We settle because of it. You’re correct, the big trade off isn’t worth it.

Ronald Lancaster  |  02 Nov 2009  |  Reply

Hey Mike.

I’m in! Never say die. Always get up. One more round. Nothing but 100%-all the time. I have lived with these for the last forty years. Good to hear your re-enforcements…


Mike Henry  |  03 Nov 2009  |  Reply

Hey! Great to hear from you. It’s been a while. I thought about you when I wrote this. Thanks for your comment.


Susan Mazza  |  05 Nov 2009  |  Reply

Love that scene from that movie (we seem to have the same taste in movies). What I take away is that it not so much about not having a plan B, but rather about our relationship with plan B. Plan B is not an escape hatch! Plan A stands the best chance of working if we give it 110% of our energy, focus and intention.

Foghorn Leghorn (yes the cartoon and I am dating myself!) used to draw himself in the beginning of the cartoon. He also had a giant eraser. I like to tell people that while it may be prudent to have a plan B, if they construct it in their mind like it’s a back door it will weaken their stand for and focus on Plan A. So when you notice you have constructed a back door get out that big eraser.

Really great post Mike. I am getting a lot of great food for thought out of your posts on this theme of the war on apathy.
.-= Susan Mazza´s last blog ..Do You Set People Up to Win? =-.

Marge MacKinnon  |  09 Nov 2009  |  Reply

I agree that Plan A deserves exceptional commitment. However, as Michael Leiter pointed out so well, that should not eliminate the necessity of having a Plan B outline up one’s sleeve. Despite commitment, the best plans don’t always succeed. That doesn’t mean the goal isn’t worth achieving or that one should accept failure. It means one should evaluate what went wrong with Plan A, and then pull out, polish, and implement Plan B.

I’m interviewing for a new job (outstanding content professional here). I’ll research and prepare for an interview with the “perfect” company for the perfect job, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still filling out other applications, or lining up freelance opportunities.


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