Playing unwinnable games

May 8th, 2012 by Patty Bear

Sometimes incredible momentum is created just by getting out of the headwinds.

Have you ever been walking outside when it’s so windy that, not only does it feel like you can’t make any headway , but you’re actually blown backwards? That’s the effect that playing an uwinnable game has on your life. Playing an unwinnable game in any part of your life absorbs so much energy that it impacts your ability to move forward in anything else you try to do.

So what are some unwinnable games?

1. Taking responsibility for someone else’s experience. No matter how deeply you may care , no matter how well you execute the actions you take, every single person is at choice in their life. For instance, you can be a perfect parent, but each year your child grows, he/she exercises more and more choices that create their experience. It’s frustrating thinking we can do everything right and not be able to affect an outcome that we choose. But other people’s experiences are by definition the ones they choose.

2. Trying to be like someone else. You don’t have their personality, their strengths, their experiences, or their passions. No matter how hard you work to imitate who they are and what they do, the closest you can come is a pale approximation of who you’d like to be.

However, each person has an Authentic Brand that captures their strengths, their personality, their passions, their unique viewpoints, and their experiences. And this Authentic Brand is a winnable game. It is a powerful force for flow as well as a colorful expression of the best of you. And most of all, it’s far more compelling in business and relationships than a copy of even the most attractive, charismatic person or business.

3. Trying to make someone else be different. You have the right to ask another person to do something different but you do not have the right to ask them to be different. Not playing this unwinnable game requires rigorous honesty on your part.

When you’re asking them to be different you need them to agree to do what you ask. There’s an attachment to what they choose and often times a willingness to do whatever it takes to get them to choose what you asked.

When you are simply asking them to do something different you’re not holding your breath about whether they actually choose to do so. You’re relaxed and you already know what other options you have.

These aren’t the only unwinnable games, but by far the greatest number of unwinnable games involves trying to control other people. When faced with an unwinnable game we often double down, become more creative or manipulative, and try even harder. But unwinnable games are just that -unwinnable.

Naming the unwinnable game is the first big step and with it comes a huge amount of relief (sometimes sadness and grief as well) -and a big chunk of your energy back.

Step 2- stop playing.

Step 3- figure out what is truly a winning game?
What unwinnable games are you playing?

In Joy,

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