Justin Ricklefs


Playing for High Stakes

Last weekend, we had a poker tournament fundraiser for a couple of our daughters and their basketball teams. By all accounts, it was a big success.

Loads of fun, great conversations and plenty of people like me losing their money playing cards.

I’m not very good at poker. I’d like to be, but I’m just not.

In fact, Brooke was quick to tell our friends that night how my $40 entry fee was a guaranteed donation, not a chance at winning the $500 first prize.

Hater. 😜

Turns out, she was 100% right. Though, in my defense, I went out by losing on the river in heartbreaking fashion.

The stakes weren’t super high that night, though any hand of cards with any amount of money on the line, feels like they are. At least to me.

I had a conversation this week with a fellow small business owner and entrepreneur. A guy ahead of my journey by a few years.

He talked about leaving his corporate gig several years ago, and at the time, how scary that felt.

“Yeah, me too, I know exactly how that feels,” I said.

After our fears connected, he described his state of mind now. I remember it this way:

“Of course it’s scary, but isn’t so much better to be playing for high stakes? Not just the upside with money, not even close. But for the growth. The momentum. The impact.”

He was fired up, there was a shared passion and belief that our ideas could make a difference.

He went on to talk about how things snowball and pick up steam, so to speak. And how none of that is possible if the first movement isn’t taken.

A movement that may be as small as sharing an idea, having a conversation, writing the first blog post, asking for that cup of coffee, scheduling the appointment with the counselor, sending that “I’m so sorry for the way I _____” text.

This isn’t some naïve call to quit your job and start a business. Rather, it’s a plea to play for high stakes in life.

Because in my own life, I have felt the feelings of being numb, going through the motions, and even at times being asleep to myself and my heart.

That sucks. And it hurt people around me.

But when the lights are on, the heart is engaged and the story has meaning, whoa. That’s a different feeling entirely.

And maybe, I lose on the river card again.

But I’m in the game again. And it has major significance, far beyond success.

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