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the first tee has never seen your résumé

February 4, 2014

Don’t play games with me!

This is not a game, you need to take this seriously!

What do people mean when they say that and why do we connect  behaviour with games?

Have you ever played a game against someone who wasn’t taking it seriously? Played tennis or a board game against someone who wasn’t even trying? There is no juice in it. Nobody gets anything from the experience.

Then there is the old saying  “It isn’t whether you win or lose it is how you play the game.” And I know that you often hear the ‘winner’ saying that to the ‘loser’ as some sort of consolation when we think that what she really means is it doesn’t matter because you lost and I didn’t.

But think about that saying again. As the winner there is no real joy for me if you didn’t bring everything to the game. And if I lost because I didn’t try – well, then we both lose. There is a part of us that wants to say that games don’t really matter. They are just games after all and, unlike the wizard chess in Harry Potter, there are no real physical  consequences if we lose.

Except that games do matter and there are real psychological consequences.

Which is why it all comes down to how you play the game. Because what we all know (but perhaps are reluctant to admit) is  how we play the game provides others with a strong indication of how we live in real life.

I heard a story about a CEO who conducted final executive position interviews on the golf course. In response to a criticism that he was being discriminatory against people who don’t traditionally play golf he replied that it was quite the opposite.  Golf, he said, is a game. It treats everyone equally. It isn’t about being good or bad at golf, winning or losing: it was how you played the game that was the most telling.

The first tee has never seen your résumé. It doesn’t care what sex you are, what car you drive or where you were educated.  You (and your ego) are given the same opportunity as everyone else who steps up. The same opportunity for success but more importantly the same opportunity for failure. The same opportunity to learn something of who you are and how you are. How you show up in the world.*

And what better way to see how your future hires behave under pressure than in a game? Played somewhere where a poor decision isn’t going to damage the share price, where an appetite for risk is demonstrably visible and not just discussed in abstract terms?  Responses to challenges on show for all to see? Where it is clear just how much of a team player you actually are? That’s what games do.

So play games with me anytime. Serious games, seriously played. Or don’t. But when you do, remember, how you play the game will determine if you have won or lost.


*For more on just how extensive some people see the opportunities are on the golf course see “Golf for Enlightenment” by Deepak Chopra.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2014 7:25 am

    Oh dear…what does it mean if you are not competitive at all?

  2. February 16, 2014 7:39 am

    Barbara, does “not competitive at all” mean that you don’t give your best effort when you play a game? If you are giving your best then you don’t need to be “competitive”. If you are not currently doing that then rather than thinking “I should become more competitive” consider whether you might be more inclined to give a gift of your best effort to the person you are playing with? In tennis against a young niece or nephew your best effort may mean carefully placing the ball in such a way that it maximizes their chance of connecting with the ball.

    If you are that young niece or nephew your best effort may mean sticking with the frustration and continuing to give your best even though you haven’t managed to hit one ball back into the court.

    Does that go part of the way to answering your question?

    • February 16, 2014 3:48 pm

      Absolutely, so re-framing I think is what is needed. Most recent example would be a mountain bike race that my friends would like me to enter. I just couldn’t quite get past the block of not wanting to compete – knowing that of course, with any challenge, one always grows/improves with each test. Changing “competitive” with “giving my best effort” for example would be a great way to move past that block! Will let you know how I go!

  3. Gavin permalink
    February 22, 2014 11:32 am

    Very good example about how we show up in this world. Turning up is one thing – probably the most important aspect of all but is wasted if we don’t show up after that. Can see this in the innocence of the young when they try new things (sports, make up, beautiful dresses, conversation) and learn how to compete (or give their best).


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