Do You Take “All or Nothing” to the Extreme?

Do You Take "All or Nothing" to the Extreme? by Christine Kane Uplevel YouAh, what a day.

You picked up the brand new car you’ve been wanting forever. You drove it out of the lot, and now you’re heading to the mountains for a camping trip with some friends.  All the while, you’re inhaling that new-car smell.  Go you!

As you’re driving along the back roads, you notice something a little strange. The car is leaning a bit. Then it’s making an odd sound. You pull over.  You stop the car. You get out.

Damn. A flat tire! On your brand new shiny car! How the heck did THAT happen?

What do you do?

Well, it is YOU after all.  So you do the only logical thing.

You say, “Screw it.” You reach into your backpack, get out your camping knife – and slash the other three tires.

Hey, why even bother if they’re not all working?


“That’s totally over the top! I would never do that to my car!”


Well, would you do it to your goals?

Would you do it to your day?

I’m betting you would, you have, and you do.

Think about how many people you know (maybe you’re one of them!) who started on a path. Maybe it was a new business.  Maybe it was a long-held dream. Maybe it was a project, or a production or a plan.

Then, they got a “flat.”

Maybe it was a bad performance.  Or a negative review.  Or overwhelm from too many clients.

Rather than fix the flat or put on a spare for a while, they sabotaged the entire dream. They slashed the other three tires.

Hell, some of us do this in a single day! We have a list of priorities. Then, one flat tire, and out comes the knife, and we give up on the whole day.

It’s called Extreme All-or-Nothing.  And if it’s your default position, it actually seems rational.  You can even explain it so that it sounds logical!

“Well, of course I gave up on my own business! I took that one chance – and it didn’t work out!”

“Yea I spent the day in bed! I binged last night, and I didn’t make it to the gym at 6am! What was the use?”

Here’s what you know already, but I’ll remind you anyway:

Extreme All-or-Nothing is not rational. It doesn’t make sense.  A flat tire is nothing more than a highway bummer.

Years ago, someone asked me when exactly I knew I had totally healed from my years with an eating disorder. Was it when I didn’t binge anymore? Was it when I was the perfect weight? Was it when I no longer tried to stuff down my emotions?


It was when I could go to a birthday party, have some chocolate cake, and head to the gym the very next morning in spite of my non-perfect eating.

In fact, it was so liberating that I began to see my imperfect action alone as true success – more exciting than any outward success I experienced!

So, the next time you get a flat tire, choose to experience your own pure success…

Look at the tire.

Come up with a plan to repair it or get a spare.

Leave your other three tires alone.

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  1. says

    I had quite the day yesterday…full of self-doubt and “OMG I’ll never be able to do this…what was I thinking?” I knew part of it was fueled by hormones and part of it was due to pushing myself out of my comfort zone and feeling like I had failed. AND?? I was SO proud of myself because even in the moment of feeling all of that, I knew that I was going to continue to push forward and just do it. So no, I am not a all-or-nothing person…I used to be, a long time ago, but no longer.

    • says

      Hey Karen – Thanks for being so transparent and honest!!! We all have those days for sure don’t we? So nice we are not alone and that we can read a Christine Kane post and get our butts back in gear and back on the path! Thanks to you both!

  2. says

    Very inspiring and motivational words, thank you! I think I need to start acting more like this as I really relate with your extreme all-or-nothing concept. Thanks Christine.

  3. says

    I really needed this. I have been going through the self-doubt lately, coupled with being sick in bed, and just feeling overwhelmed. Thanks for reminding me not to slash the other tires!

  4. says

    Thanks for the uplifting article. I thought no one would slash all their tires; then realized how we don’t follow up on our plans after one or two things not going as expected.
    I really enjoy and get inspired by your articles.

    • says

      Thanks Roxanne – Let me be super clear… I didn’t come up with this analogy. I’ve heard people use this metaphor for a long time in motivational/success circles. It sounds like Jim Rohn to me! I just took it and wrote a story around it to bring it to life!

  5. says

    Christine, thanks for the great post. I too was filled with self-doubt yesterday. All of a sudden I thought I should be doing my gratitude journal but went to bed anyway. This morning, Day 24 of Uplevel Your Life,there is a reminder to be doing your gratitude journal. Instead of beating myself up that I missed acting on that lesson, I immediately did the 5 items I am grateful for – and the first one was having the reminder to do the gratitude journal. I felt great after and now my intention is clear again. Rolling with all four tires in great condition.

  6. says

    Wow! What a wonderful analogy! I spent years whipping out the knife on the 3 remaining tires wondering why the car wouldn’t move. The car was up on blocks by then and required much more maintenance and fixing.

    BUT, I got it going. Now, I’m going to remember the tire analogy:-) Thanks for that.

  7. says

    Love it. When we fail, I guess we want to be right about failing and do so epically! I’ve done that before. I like to think I’m smart enough to not go there again. I enjoy the advice and support of the smart woman who runs this business and smart women who participate in it.

  8. says

    This is super helpful… I definitely tend to take that approach. I get overwhelmed that I don’t know everything and can’t figure it all out right now, so I get frustrated and tired, and disappear for a while.

    Your analogy shows that we don’t have to give it all up just because one part isn’t working… And this is something I’ll use now and keep in mind for later, when that overwhelm will inevitably pop up again. Thanks, Christine! :)

  9. says

    WOW… CK, given our retreat has just been hit by a tornada, right on the back of a huge ’emotional storm’ and situation which has the potential to write-off the entire car, you article and analogy have re-framed the situation… the situation might be a major blow-out, and yet it’s only one tyre! Last night I thanked the universe for the people who are gathering around us and inspiring us to stay the course… Thanks for showing up CK.

  10. says

    What an amazing metaphor! You get a single flat tire and you slash the other three. It sounds so absurd, and I never would have thought I did anything like that until I read the rest of the post. I totally do. I’m going to find a picture of a car with four flat tires and hang it on my wall as a reminder to never slash the other three. THANK YOU CHRISTINE!

  11. Tangela says

    Thanks Christine for this inspiring advice.

    There have been plenty of days I have decided to “slash all three tires” when something does not work out. I appreciate the inspiring article.

  12. Ramona King says

    I love this article. I love the analogy of how extreme all or nothing is. I’ve just sent the article to my son who is in an all-or-nothing space right now.

  13. Dawn says

    I have found this analogy very interesting, and now I am wondering:
    What do you do now if you slashed those other three tires many years ago and now stay at home, going nowhere near a car or a road or a campsite and surround yourself with ever-increasing extra weight and clutter and mindless television in order to dampen your life force energy so that you can avoid the possibility of experiencing another flat tire (horrors!!) And when the truth is that something deep within your soul really longs to be out on the open road…vibrant and free…excited to see what adventure you will discover next, but now you doubt the quality of your own character and the habit of stuckness is so engrained that any forward movement feels so threatening you cannot face it?
    I would be ever so grateful for your thoughts on this.

    • Luke says

      Well to pursue the metaphor, first you buy a toy pedal car and you drive that at home first, then the backyard, and then the frontyard, then you get an old beat-up bicycle and you restore it and ride that bike everywhere until it shines.
      Then with those successes in those not-so-critical dreams and goals then either repeat as required or go get your car and learn to restore it.
      From little things big things grow.

  14. says

    I am a retired school secretary but have a dear friend that teached Life Skills to high school students. I would love to give her a copy of your poster. Please let me know where I can get one.

    Thanks you for sharing.


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