Life is comprised of several games: the work game, the relationships game, the living in your society game, the parenting game. You’re aware of this, but are you making your moves with it in mind? And what do I mean by this? If these are all games and if you can separate yourself from the perspective of yourself as the only player, you gain a perspective and a power to take different actions and influence the outcome of the game. (Note: I’m not talking about the book The Game, by the guys who teach you about picking up chicks- that will be another post for later.)
I’m going to start with just a few topics and a few suggestions. I think I could probably write on this for hours and hours, but I respect your time.
The Game At Work
One of the best things I ever did for myself was start reading books by CEOs. The first was Winning, by Jack and Suzy Welch. After that, I read Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?, by Lou Gerstner on IBM. These links take you to the books, if you want them. The next two books weren’t by CEOs, but helped me understand business. For instance, Freakonomics (but for the reason of understanding incentives). And finally, The World Is Flat, to understand globalization.
Why read about CEOs? When I was reading these books, I was a lot further down the ladder. I learned how they think of my work situation from my boss’s perspective. Pow. Instantly, I could see my place in the game. And from there, I knew how to interact. I changed my behavior immediately, and the results were instantly obvious. I was treated far differently once I could speak from the perspective of my senior management, because they knew that I knew my place in the work game.
Quick Game Hints:
At Your Job
- Handle every problem you can at your level.
- Look for signs the company is moving on from you. Jump first.
- Build teams that aren’t just your department.
- Make contact with people NOT in your company through social networks. Build relationships outside.
- Read industry blogs and news sites.
- Know MUCH more than your job requires about the landscape.
- Write a really compelling summary paragraph.
- Write about your old jobs from the perspective of the job you want next. (Make sense? If not, email me).
- Get lots of written testimonials from people who’ve worked with you.
The Game at Home
Here are a few things to think about: while you’re out trying to save the world, whoever’s also on your team at home is there to nurture you and support you. But it’s a two-way street. Your job at home is to forever be keeping the base built. Contribute to home life. Give love. Share passion about what your partner (and children) are doing, and make it about them. Give them some undistracted time, and make sure they feel that what they’re doing is just as important to you as all the things you tell them about yourself in a given day.
Quick Game Hints:
- Turn your BlackBerry (or iPhone or whatever) off from time to time.
- Recommend offline things to do and/or offer to do something your partner’s into.
- Occasionally break way out of the mold and take your family somewhere fun and goofy.
- Buy a gift related to your partner’s interests or hobbies without asking them what they want.
The Game Online and Socially
Here’s where it can be tricky. Trying to figure out all the various games out there relates to what you’re into, how you’re doing it, and who’s involved. Think about the difference between Second Life and Halo. Halo has a script. Second Life is a little more open. Well, our social world is kind of more like Second Life, where we create and shape our mischief. But even there – did you see it? – I mention that WE create it. It’s our game. And we have to recognize that, and that we’re players.
For this, realize a few things: everyone is the superhero of their own game. We’re all in the driver’s seat of a story that we’re creating. We can participate in other people’s games, and we often do. But that means we have to be aware of two roles: we have to supplant our role as the star, and figure out our role as supporting character in the other person’s story. Oh! So there’s the question: what character to you play in THEIR game? Are you the bumbling sidekick? Are you the over-dramatic friend? Changes things when you think about this, doesn’t it?
Quick Game Hints:
- Ask people more about themselves. It gives you perspective on their games, and how you fit in.
- Find ways that everyone can be a hero, or at least participate. The more heroes in a game, the more fun it can be.
- Learn who plays the villain in your game, even if it’s just an energy drainer. Can you get them out of the game?
- Learn how participation improves your game and other people’s.
- See where your game might be misinterpreted by others who don’t understand what you’re planning.
Can You Win The Game?
When talking about this, I realized that I wasn’t really consciously thinking of winners and losers. Games don’t work that way in my mind. For me, it’s in the playing, and the playing well, but I seem to be lacking in that gene that says I have to win. Instead, I just want to do really well. For instance, when you play a lot of online shooter games like Halo 3, it’s not *really* about team scores and stuff (it can be!). For me, it’s about those rare moments when someone walks into a trap I’ve set, or when I do something I think of as clever. That’s enough for me.
So, in all my examples, I guess I’m not thinking of winners and losers. I’m thinking on the framing of us realizing we’re a player, realizing that we’ve got something in this game, and that there are ways we can improve our gameplay.
If you want to win, cool. If you want people to lose, not as cool, but that’s your karma. While you’re focusing on winning, I’m thinking of ways to change the rules or invent new levels, or find different games to crash into and see if I can navigate. Winning, to me, means figuring out the mechanics and moving towards where I want to go. I’ll let you define winning in your own way.
Does this make any sense? Do you see any of it? Does this give you thoughts or ideas on how you might approach things differently? Sometimes I feel I’m way off base. So you tell me: can you see the shape of the games in your life? And how might you approach it?
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