New axes (play your own game)

As in “axis”, plural – sorry if you’re disappointed.

We can’t win at everything.

The good news is that you’re in charge of what you’re competing on.

Kids find this hard to learn, but it’s true: if you’re not racing, you can’t be beaten.

We do well when we remember this when we’re tempted to compare our cars and homes, families and relationships, careers and organisations with others’.

It’s so easy to slip into playing someone else’s game – for example, by starting to compete on “bank balance” with someone who runs their life to maximise for money, or on “shiny office” with an organisation that’s maximising for ostentation, or on “Objective score” with someone who’s maximising for test results.

This always feels bad. But worse, it can fool you into taking your eye off the the things that really matter and forget the game you’re really playing – which inevitably means starting to play it badly.

Think hard – think very hard – about what matters most, about the games (there are always games within games within games) you want to play, and what axes you’ll measure success on. You’ll certainly need to remind yourself of these from time to time, and it will be helpful to remind your team and customers too.

You’ll almost always lose on other people’s axes… which might turn out not to be as bad as winning a game that’s not for you. On the right axes, you might end up delighted even if you lose.

Play. Your. Own. Game.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...