Opinion: Rules and roles in an ever-changing game

Column by Michael Norton
Posted 8/29/21

If the game itself isn't changing, the rules often do. Sometimes, any change to the rules could make the game harder to play and challenging to follow. We see penalties assessed and wonder why.

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Opinion: Rules and roles in an ever-changing game


If the game itself isn't changing, the rules often do. Sometimes, any change to the rules could make the game harder to play and challenging to follow. We see penalties assessed and wonder why. Or we see very clear infractions, with no penalty called.

There are the games, and then there is gamesmanship, and the difference between the two will often determine the outcome. Some of us love games, many referring to ourselves as “Gamers.” And then there are those who prefer some other type of entertainment or activity, the “non-Gamers.”

There are some games where the rules have remained hard and fast since the game was invented. And then there are those other games being played where the rules change every so often. In the interest of creating a better experience, the rules change so that the game becomes faster, more exciting, or more challenging, all to generate greater interest. The rules of the game may also change as technology advances. When this happens the powers that be try and level the playing field by changing the rules.

Although many of us have learned to gamify our work and our activities so that we can stay interested, stretch ourselves, and perform at a higher level, not everyone looks at life as a game. And with everything that is happening in the world right now, it is easy to understand why.

There are very real, hard, and painful situations and events taking place right now. Whether we are a “gamer” or not, somehow, we are caught up in the game and the gamesmanship of others. Directly or indirectly, we find ourselves in the position of spectator, fan, player, coach, owner, or official.

If we choose to remain on the sidelines as a spectator or fan, we will root for our team. We may even criticize the players, management, and ownership for poor decisions and planning or terrible execution. It's super easy to second guess others when we stand in the shadows. We don't vote and then complain about who won the election. We watch with heartache the events happening in our community or around the world, but don't take any action to help. We have decided to be a spectator and life is not a spectator sport.

Being so moved that we find a way to get into the game means that we have decided to be a player. We are no longer comfortable merely watching, we recognize that we have a heart for service and that we have the talents and resources to help.

Some of us are built for leadership and managing. We see opportunities where others see roadblocks. We can help guide our community, co-workers, or family and friends as we come together to create a game plan that will allow us to serve collectively for the greater good.

Being the owner means taking ownership. Ultimately the buck stops here. We own the problem and that means we own the solution. In this life we can either hold ourselves responsible and accountable as owners, or we can pass the blame. Eventually, a lack of ownership leads to failure.

The hardest role is that of being the official. This means we stay current with the game and the changes to any rules. We have the difficult task of letting others know when they have crossed the line. We assess the penalties. And when we miss something as the official, everyone turns on us, the fans, players, coaches, and owners.

Are you watching or are you on the field and in the game? Are you leading others in a constructive manner to be a part of the solution? Have you taken ownership for what you can control? Are you helping to mediate and be a peacemaker, brave enough to call the penalties as you see them? I would love to hear your story at mnorton@tramazing.com and when we realize that we all do play some role in an ever-changing game, it really will be a better than good year.

Michael Norton is the grateful CEO of Tramazing.com, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.


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