Play a Bigger Game

George Clooney

I’m on a train bound for meetings in New York City, with the types of people I rarely meet: investors. They work in an abstract that isn’t my typical play space, and they are tuned for completely different levels of thoughts, of insights, of metrics to prove their point. They play a bigger game.

There’s a great interview of actor and director George Clooney in Esquire magazine. In it, you get a sense of the George behind the smile, of his connections to world leaders, to the UN, to much more masterful work than the typical “actor with a cause” mindset. Having world leaders at your disposal is usually useful. Clooney knows this. He’s playing a bigger game.

Also at the train station this morning, I listened to two employees talk about how to get the best spread of extra days off by planning out their sick days. This was the game for them. Not finding a way to get out of the job entirely. Not finding work that makes them crave doing it. Their game wasn’t as big, such as it were.

Play a Bigger Game

With some recent changes (not yet announced), Rob and I are working to retool Human Business Works a little bit. But in these small moves, a bigger game is on our minds. It starts with the simplest of thought processes, really. I thought I’d lay it out, in case this becomes useful to you.

  • The big game is a long game. This is seed planting work, not “I have to eat today” work.
  • You must ask yourself “what is above me?” quite often. By “above me,” I mean only at a different level of perspective. A mayor doesn’t think like a governor. A governor doesn’t think like a senator. Etc.
  • The big game is two or three years out, but you execute daily.
  • Most importantly: what don’t you have time to do if you want to play bigger?
  • Start at the end. Start looking for the path to that end. The big game doesn’t care where you are right now.
  • If the people you surround yourself with are in the same game as you, how will you play bigger? (This one is difficult to work through, but there are friendly/humane ways to work this).
  • If a heartfelt and compassionate mission isn’t part of your bigger game, you might be missing a very important part of what makes a game big. Regret is a very expensive ailment.

Quick aside: what if you don’t want to play a bigger game? Then don’t. Totally fine. There are many people who just want the job, the paycheck, the free time, and an uncomplicated life. That’s utterly fine.

But if you want to play big, you need bravery, you need systems, and you need a platform, to name just a few tools for your quiver.

I’m jumping into a bigger game. You?

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