Plan to Play the Game

I was recently sitting with a successful community leader.  
We were discussing accountability and the 7-traits of good leadership.

  1. Process Information
  2. Organize It
  3. Prioritize It
  4. Enroll Others
  5. Communicate the Vision
  6. Bring it to a Close
  7. Reinvent as Necessary

We agreed that planning for success and defining what success looks like is critical as a leader.  We agreed that gathering information from your team, your customers (whoever they are), and your community is also critical.  We also discussed how the game seems to be constantly changing and how there is always a game within the game. 

We discussed how it's a lot like life.  You plan for success and you know that the game is always changing.  There's always new information and new games within the game.

We agreed that every leader needs a Plan A, Plan, B, Plan C, etc., and every leader needs the confidence in a process to adapt, grow and evolve quickly as the game changes. 


Is Everyone Playing the Same Game?

I knew from my experience that the best teams I ever played on were those teams where we were all aiming for the same target.  We had each other’s back, we picked each other up when we made a mistake, we cheered each other on and we played with “no fear”.  We were confident and simply knew that we were going to win the game.  When we didn’t win, we were open to learning something that would help us next time.  When we learned it was time to move on from the game, we found others games to play. 

That’s life, right?!  The game is constantly changing.

The community leader and I spoke about the challenges we face as leaders when everyone is not playing the same game or when the game changes. 


Oh Shit… The Game Changed

In our conversation, I learned about all sorts of challenges this community leader faces day in and day out.  We chatted about education and schools, as an example, and how they're all trying to adjust to play a new game. 

  • Budgets are tight
  • We measure success through Grades, GPA’s and Test Scores
  • Anything a student wants to learn is a google search away
  • Lives are wired to move fast
  • Our classrooms, schools and districts are diverse
  • There's a variety of needs
  • Time is limited
  • Student to Teacher ratios are out of balance
  • Students are looking to define what success means to them
  • Everyone's worried about safety
  • Students need 1:1 attention / leadership

The game has changed. 

  • The speed and volume of information hitting students is at an all-time high
  • The speed and volume of information hitting teachers and leaders is at an all-time high
  • Access and visibility to what is going on around the world is transparent to us 24/7
  • The perception of what success looks like for most is being set at an unreasonable height
  • Fear and Anxiety is trending off the charts
  • Life is changing faster than it ever has before
  • And the leaders leading did not grow up in the same world that students are growing up in today.

In that conversation, the commuity leader tossed out the question "how do you play this game today, where do you start?"

My response was that "consistency matters" (<-- read this blog), which led us to discussing how consistency removes fear and how it allows all of us (leaders, team members, community, etc.) to regain focus on what we need to be working on. 

I explained that to regain consistency, you need to start with simplifying the game so that you can explain it, and so that everyone can improve how they're playing the game.  Watch the great golfers.  They make 10 putts consistently from 3 feet before they move back to 8 feet , 12 feet or 20 feet.   

Simplifying the game allows everyone to "see the game" and when a person can see the game, they then can "believe" in the game. When a person or team starts to really "believe" in the game, they win more times than not.


Let's Simplify the Game

I asked the community leader, "What's the one game that all students are playing?"  

The community leader said, "they're all trying to get into college."  I replied, "are they?" 
The commuity leader said, "they're all trying to graduate."  I replied, "are they?" 
The commuity leader said, "they're all trying to get good jobs."  I replied, "are they?"

You can see where this conversation was headed.  There's a lot of assumptions we make and a lot of information that has led us to be where we're at today.

To simplify the game, we need to push assumptions aside and really ask ourselves what do we know, where are we at now, and where do we want to go? I shared with the community leader that there appears to be only one game that we can be confident that all of the students are playing.

He asked, "what's that game?"

I replied, "It's the game of life."  It's the one game that everyone is tasked with playing.


Imagine This

Arguably, as a teacher or leader, the most valuable gift that we can share with a student is our time.  Like it or not, it’s our time that we are being paid for and arguably, the number one need for a student is our time, our attention and good leadership in their lives.

Imagine you're 15, 18, 21 today.  What's on your mind?  What are the puzzles that keep you up thinking at night?  What are your fears?

They all have to do with playing the game of life, right?!

Well... Imagine This:

Every student starts every year:

  • With a clear plan
  • Confident in who they are
  • Defining what success looks like for them
  • Understanding the fears they will need to manage
  • Establishing goals for themselves
  • Establishing a network of people they can lean on for help
  • Knowing the immediate steps they can take to win that day, month, year.

Imagine if every teacher/leader was focused on helping a student plan to “Create their Future vs. Find their Future.”  Bernard Shaw, a nobel prize winner perhaps said it best, “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.” 

Imagine if we focused on teaching students and the coming generations how to simply play the game of life.  It's the one game they all have in common.  

Imagine if every teacher/leader checked in with their students regularly and was aware of how their students perceive themselves and equally understood the vision, goals and fears of each student.  How much easier would it be for teachers to connect what they are teaching to a student’s vision of success and how much easier would it be to connect students with resources that can help them execute their plan?  It makes you wonder what the impact would be on the traditional measurements (GPA, Test Scores, etc.)?

It's been my experience that when people can connect the work they are doing with their vision for success, their work is passionate. I'm sure that we can all agree that it's no longer our job in todays world to tell a student what their future is going to be.  We're competing with too much other information coming at them.  It’s now become our job to inspire them to build the best “them” that they can be and to empower them to create their future.

Imagine the culture of personal accountability that you would create.  Imagine what you could layer on top of this foundation as a leader.  You would have all the answers you need to reinvent the game to be a win-win for everyone.  And we all know... winning is way more fun than losing!

We know that businesses will need employees with certain skill sets.  We know that our economies and world need a variety of unique strengths working together.  Students will find their future when we start working on helping them create their future.  

The community leader thought about what I just shared and pondered it for a bit.  You could see the wheels turning.  We agreed to discuss more of this soon.

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