Extreme All-or-Nothing and Your Other Three Tires - Christine Kane

What a cool 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 lovin’ 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!”

Yea?  But would you do it to your dreams? Your intentions? Your day?

I often meet people who started on a path toward a big dream.  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.

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 momentary bummer.

Recently, a client asked me when exactly I knew I had totally healed bulimia. 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.

  • Stacey

    Isn’t it cool how all the posts of years gone by are still speaking to people?
    Excellent. My knife was at the ready…. I’ll put it away for now 😉

  • Tracy

    I know I’m a little late here in responding, but what a fabulous post. I’ve tossed in the towel after a stumbling block many times before. Wonderful real-life metaphor that we can all relate to.

    Sidebar = last week after a little precarious driving, I blew a tire. Changed it myself (whew!) only to have my battery die b/c I had the headlights on so I could see. Called AAA to give me a jump, went on my way. On the way home, blew a 2nd tire. (augh!) Still made it home in time to meet a client and did NOT give up!

  • Meredith

    This was wonderful! Love the imagery… I started working on my black-or-white thinking years ago, and my therapist actually wore grey suits to our sessions a few times so she could just point to herself when I got going. Made me laugh, and made me see more clearly, too — just like your post 🙂

  • Annette

    What a great metaphor for what people do to themselves! Thanks. I’m going to see if I can use this metaphor to help my daughter understand why one small thing doesn’t need to ruin her day. (She’s prone to drama and an all or nothing attitude) Thanks!

  • Jodi at Joy Discovered

    Hi Christine!
    I love stories like this one that point out how ridiculous some of our ingrained habits are. I have to admit, I’ve given in to extreme all-or-nothing behavior. I’ve never thought of it that way until now. Thanks!

  • Marie

    I still wonder about the line between giving up too soon, and cutting the ties on things I don’t want (but do out of duty, or because I’m already on that path). So many people in my line of work (and one coach I spoke with recently who didn’t realize that not listening to potential clients made me decide to not hire her) want to tell me how I think, what I want and feel (without input from me). When you’ve been driving down the WRONG road, though, maybe abandoning the car isn’t the wrong thing to do?

  • Jules

    A very timely message, thank you so much. There times when it’s hard to keep sight of the end goal when there seems to be so much interference on the way to achieving it. Run the interference, keep the goal in mind as the incentive to do so.

  • pati

    Thank you, Christine. You know me so well . . . You (Pati) can even explain it so that it sounds logical!

    I like your birthday cake example, too.

    Thinking good thoughts.


  • Chrissy

    I needed to hear this post this week Christine – thanks for always being so relevant and helpful. As always, wishing you continued success from one quite appreciative blog reader of yours…

  • Carolyn

    This is a great metaphor. We don’t even need to slash the tires, some of us just abandon the car, forgetting we even own it. Thank you Christine. I will keep this in mind and carry a spare, learn to come up with repair plans, and be open to possible solutions and assistance.

  • Robyn Seaton

    This is a great metaphor. I can really get it.

    I think a lot of this thinking is also wrapped up in perfectionism. If it’s not perfect, it’s not possible.


  • Steph

    Great inspiration today. Thank you.

  • Kristin

    Thank you. I needed to be reminded of this today!

  • Kylie of Thin Crust Deep Dish

    I love this analogy. It makes so much sense! Especially for those of us healing from food issues. I’m going to keep this story in my back pocket and keep coming back to it whenever I feel like giving up.

  • sue

    I love the visual here of slashing the tires! I need visuals like that when I’m lost in the all-or-nothingness. This will really help me. Thanks Christine!!

  • Chris Duncan

    I admit to having done a lot of this kind of thinking in the past – but when you put it in terms of the tire slashings – I could see how ridiculous that thinking really is. I’ll keep this in mind next time a thought like that comes running through my mind. Thanks for the visual – and the laughs! 🙂


  • Mindful Mimi

    I love my flat tires (afterward that is…). They teach me so much. Maybe I did not put enough air in. Or too much. Maybe I put on winter tires, when it’s summer. Maybe the tires were to big for the car, or too small. Apparently colored rubber exists (says my brother) and if I want I can have red tires! Ain’t that great?!
    You have to change your tires with the season, the time that passes, the road you drive on.
    I love your analogy.

  • Linda Eaves

    “I began to see my imperfect action alone as true success – more exciting than any outward success I experienced!”
    I really like flipping things around like that. Makes all action on a fun even playing field. And I love to play for sure! Christine, I found you via Nathalie Lussier’s tweet she’s @hyperlinked. 🙂

  • Nathalie Lussier

    This such a great insight. I see it all the time in my own life, and that of my raw food coaching clients. Now I have a new way to look at it, your tire example is perfect!

    Why throw your whole day away because you woke up later than planned? It’s much more logical to keep on keeping on. 🙂 Love it!

  • Fran

    I stumbled across your blog several months ago and read through all the archives. I still go back to an old one now and then for inspiration. Today’s post was perfect for me right now. I am a very visual person so the flat tire metaphor will help…and picturing myself slashing the other 3 tires will make me stop and laugh and reconsider my next move!

  • Lynne

    Taking action this morning (writing tons of website copy) on the big dream that I was ready to squash 6 months ago, until your coaching and the UYB program helped me “see the light” (Hallelujah!). I love this perspective on how we can move beyond the extremes in thinking. Thank you!

  • Elaine

    I LOVE this post – thank you! How easy it is to give up and slash the other three tires rather than fix the flat or use the spare and keep on your journey!

  • Laura

    Thank you, Christine! I had a client call me yesterday because she had “bombed” one thing and was ready to completely drop the ball and go back to playing teeny tiny. Have a great week-end, all!