Pretty much everything you do revolves around a game. Getting a promotion at work? Game. Being the best mom in a classroom? Game. Wearing certain clothes and listening to certain music? Game.
A game as we typically know it has a winner or winners, and the game is governed by certain rules. Most times, we are totally oblivious to the rules of the game, let alone that there is a game being played around us. We go on about our business as if there’s only one right way of doing things, only one way to win.
Except history has told us otherwise.
Throughout history, people in various conditions have chosen to play by their own rules, thus enabling to win the game in an unprecedented way. The United States won the Revolutionary War because it chose to fight different battle tactics than were traditional, as the British sought to do. Love him or hate him, our current president is in his seat because he chose a different path to win the election. (Hey, I didn’t say playing by different rules is always a just thing to do.)
“People like us do things like this.” That phrase is oft spoken by marketer Seth Godin, and it applies to pretty much every aspect of life. Our western way of living certainly pronounces this in every way. Think about the school system. You go to school to learn the same thing that everybody else is learning, and your grade is reflective on how well you conform to that view. You get marked down for nonconformance. I’m not saying that you should be able to say 2 + 2 = 5, but I am saying there’s no room for flexibility in basic problem solving.
And so we grow up not realizing that this mentality extends beyond school into our daily lives. If you want to get a job, you submit a resume and wait for a call. If you want to be a good classroom mom, you make healthy, tasty treats for the kids in the class. People like you do things like that.
What keeps happening, though, is that there are enough rule breakers that defy the standard norms that before we know it, the culture has shifted around us. Take corporate leadership, for example. Historically, corporate ladders were tall with many managerial rungs, predominantly consisting of white men. Then you had some outlying groups start adopting flatter leadership structures and paved the way for minorities in leadership positions. Those companies who were slow to adopt have found themselves in talent crises because their top talent who have options to work anywhere have chosen those companies who have already adopted a better culture.
People like “us” have found a new “us” and have chosen to do things “that” way.
I get it. Change is rough and can often be unsettling. It’s easier to keep playing the same old game, but I’m here to tell you that that game probably won’t last. It’ll disappear just like horse and buggy’s disappeared with the invention of the car. You can’t get away from cultural shifts. You have to ride with the tide or risk getting steam rolled.
But… there sort of is another option.
Up to this point, we’ve talked about playing the game with different rules, which is certainly what will happen most often. But have you ever asked yourself, why am I playing this game?
Is this game worth playing at all?
Subconsciously, we do quit games in our lives without us actively acknowledging it. Think about what it was like to be in high school. Most adults grow out of the drama that takes place, like who is the most popular. Granted, these games can resurface in different ways throughout adulthood, but my point is that they can go away. And you can choose to make them go away.
This mind shift has been one of the most important ones in my entire life. Too often, we play certain games where we don’t even care to be the winner. Like, I remember at one point early in my blogging days where I worried about getting higher view numbers. The problem with this is that I purposefully sought to cater to what other people wanted. I had a lot of anxiety worrying about what people might think or what people would appreciate most. But if I’m not in this to make money, then who cares if I have a million readers appreciating stuff that I could care less about?
So I stopped. I committed to only writing what I care about, and if you’re on board, great. Actually, I think that’s when my writing started to improve. The more absurd ideas I put to paper, the more my mind started formulating new thoughts that have resulted in a number of additional posts. At the time of this writing, I have five other posts in draft status and a list of eight other ideas for topics.
I hope this is something you take to heart. I see too many people either fighting for things they truly don’t care about or sticking to ways that will inevitably lead to their destruction. It’s no way to live. Changing the rules of the game or eliminating the game altogether is a path of freedom. So friend, consider these ideas for yourself.
Catch you all in the next post.