Playing a Bigger Game: What Does It Mean to You?

A lot of people talk about playing a bigger game. Few understand what it takes to play. Even fewer actually take on playing the bigger game.

What does it mean to you to play a bigger game in your life? There’s no right or wrong answer here, because everyone is going to have a different definition of what playing a bigger game means to them.

For me playing a “bigger game” means challenging my beliefs, my ways of thinking, how I feel about myself, others, and the world at-large. It means challenging my decision-making criteria and processes, challenging the actions that I take. Challenging my ego and who I think I am, my sense of self and self-worth. Growing myself to be grounded emotionally and spiritually. Maintaining my physical senses and capacities (last time my personal trainer checked, I could leap onto a platform 48″ off the ground, from a standing start. Oh yeah, I’m 66″ tall). And taking on stimulating intellectual challenges. It means actively seeking opportunities to connect to and collaborate with other like-minded, like-hearted, and like-spirited individuals and groups. It means asking questions about where I choose to focus and invest my time and energy.

Playing a bigger game means crafting a bigger story about who I say I am, what I’m out to accomplish, and raising my energy and enthusiasm to meet life’s challenges that invariably come with playing a bigger game. It means being willing to continually reinvent myself and my approach to life.

When it comes to others, the people I resonate the most with are those who have big dreams for themselves and an even bigger vision for the world. For the entrepreneurs I work with, their dreams aren’t just about themselves at all; they are about making a meaningful, lasting difference for others, for organizations, and the planet, fueled by the success of their business. And of course, they want to produce more profit, with less stress and effort, and have more time and energy to contribute in ways above and beyond their business. Ultimate freedom!

In the spirit of playing a bigger game, I’ve written out top priorities for what I intend to contribute to the world. Some of these things are big deals, at least for me. I mean, they are really, really important to me and it’s become more clear to me how important they are. Important not as a “someday, one day” dream, but important in that I can feel more energy focused in these areas and they are coming closer into view.

The closest thing I can relate this to is when I was playing tennis tournaments. I remember being behind in certain matches and then having an inner knowing that I was coming back to win. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. But most times I did. I feel that now.

  • Overall, the biggest thing I want to influence, beyond raising our sons to be blended people, is to alter the prevailing approach to education. I think I went through 27 years of formal education and training so I could gain a perspective on how poorly we teach, educate, and train young people and adults.These days, too many parents are preparing their children for a “race to nowhere.” (Yes, I’d like to see that movie). Do you really need to be concerned about your kid getting into an Ivy League school when they’re only 4 years-old? I mean, there’s a woman in Manhattan who is suing the day-care she has her 4-year-old in because they aren’t teaching her things that will prep her for an Ivy League university. No kidding! (I graduated from an Ivy League school, Brown University, and I promise you, my parents did NOT put me in an “Ivy-League prep preschool.”)
  • I’d write books that blend business with personal growth, transformation, and spirituality.
  • I’d provide more financial support for my wife’s parents, above what we’re doing now.
  • I’d make sure that the “Narada Fund” for scholarships to Living Wisdom School-Seattle is well-endowed (Narada was our close friend who passed away a earlier this year).
  • I’d set up a building fund to support Living Wisdom School-Seattle to purchase its own land with buildings and/or construct its own facilities.
  • I’d figure out how to support the growth of the Education for Life philosophy throughout the world. I’d also investigate how I could support other existing Living Wisdom Schools in Portland, Palo Alto and Nevada City. And maybe help to start one in Italy, just outside of Rome.
  • I’d investigate funding movies that have a spiritual message. There are people who already do that, funding Hollywood-caliber productions. I once took a class from Stephen Simon, the producer of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Somewhere In Time; he went on to create the Spiritual Cinema Circle.
  • For my brother and sisters, they are well-off, so money isn’t an issue for them, but I’d still take them on a cruise or something like that. The challenging part is that my “family of origin” dynamics are such that “little brother” doesn’t usually take care of the protective, older siblings.
  • I might consider participating in medical missions, but I’m not sure.
  • For myself, I think I’d play more tennis. I don’t need more “things”, but the only “gadget or gizmo” I’d really want to get for myself is a super high-end Bose sound system for my computer. (Sure I could buy one now, but in light of all the other things I’m going for, it’s just not a burning, top-of-mind priority; the others above it are more meaningful to me). Other than that, I don’t personally need much more. I’m more interested in simplicity.
  • There are plenty of things I’d do with and for my wife and kids, but they don’t really need a whole lot more of “things” either. I’m sure there are more things I could add to this list, but that works for me, for starters.

How about you?

  • What does it mean to you to play a bigger game?
  • What’s your practical approach to playing a bigger game?
  • What stops you from playing a bigger game?

I invite you to share your thoughts and comments below, so we can learn from each other as we expand our concepts about what it means and how to play a bigger game than we’ve ever played before. The future of our world is counting on us to play at that level.

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