Origin story: The whole 9 yards

April 1st, 2018

Have you ever had to fight for your life?



Today’s post is our SafeSourcing Archives

There is some disagreement about where the term “The whole 9 yards” originated, ranging anywhere from WW2, to baseball, to concrete trucks, but I think the metaphor offered by the machine gun story is the most helpful context. The story goes, that early machine gun ammunition belts came in 9 yard lengths, and so it was easy to see the metaphorical application for everyday life. If I could break down the meaning into 2 components and the emotion behind them, it would look like this:

“The whole 9 yards”:

  1. Meaning: Give it all you’ve got. Emotion: Determination.
  2. Meaning: Fight for your life. Emotion: Fear

In war, winning meant living. Either you won the fight, or someone killed you first. Can you recall a time you were in that severe a situation? Where you would either beat what was threatening your survival, or you weren’t going to make it? The closest I’ve come to that was when a malady was threatening to kill my wife, and maybe me along with it. We overcame it, but the win or die situation it created changed me forever by teaching me several things:

Failure identifies the limits we need to overcome. Until you know what your limits are, how can you overcome them? And how can you identify your limits, until you’ve tested your abilities to the point of failure? Take calculated risks, see temporary failure as a necessary step to success instead of a fixed state. Fail forward by getting back up overcoming your limitations. Once you know your limits, you know what needs to be destroyed in order to become more.

Fear is a powerful but dangerous motivator in that it motivates us to destroy what we fear. Externally imposing fear at work or in relationships can cause employees to work harder to preserve their jobs or force significant others to be more agreeable, but can also cause them to see the organization or you as the enemy, creating resentment and causing more long term problems than short term gains. Self-imposed fear caused by identifying your own limitations can cause you to destroy your own weaknesses, breeding humility and self-worth once overcome.

Apathy sells me short of what I’m capable of. How many times have you said or been told “I’m doing my best”? But ask yourself, if your life depended on the task at hand, would you be doing it any better? If the answer is yes, you’re selling yourself short. Why settle for assuming your best is less than it really is?

My worldview had to change to fit my observations. At one point I had to come to the honest realization that the approach I was taking wasn’t working and would probably end up killing me, even though my worldview told me it was the right approach. I wouldn’t have been willing to recognize the solution without the crisis. Once I allowed observation, research, and testing to inform my worldview rather than let my worldview filter what I allowed myself to consider, the solution became obvious.

It’s easy to get distracted from being your best by fear, apathy, lack of belief in ourselves, the opinions of others, or personal biases. Every activity you undertake is a once in a lifetime event that you can’t go back in time to do over. But if you truly give it your all, approaching it as thoroughly as you would if your life were on the line, you’ll never need to do anything over again. Don’t wait for your 9 yards to be spent before deciding the life you want to build is worth fighting for.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.



If you thought this page is useful to your friend, use this form to send.
Friend Email
Enter your message

6 Responses to “Origin story: The whole 9 yards”

  1. Your style is very unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this blog.

  2. Sam Birkline says:

    Hey very cool website!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your web site and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find a lot of useful information here in the post, we need develop more strategies in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

  3. I would love to add that in case you do not already have got an insurance policy or maybe you do not take part in any group insurance, you could possibly well reap the benefits of seeking the aid of a health insurance professional. Self-employed or people who have medical conditions normally seek the help of a health insurance specialist. Thanks for your writing.

  4. DreamProxies.com – 100 these best private proxies by means of big rate reductions + Seriously quickly placeholder serrvers!

  5. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your web site in internet explorer, would check this… IE still is the market leader and a huge portion of people will miss your magnificent writing because of this problem.

  6. Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this weblog and I’m impressed! Very useful info particularly the closing section 🙂 I maintain such info a lot. I used to be seeking this certain information for a very long time. Thanks and good luck.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.