I was up playing squash this morning at 7am (yes, you heard that right), and I won 3 straight games against a woman who last time we played won 4 out of 5 of our games. So what was different?
Part way through our first game I noticed that she specializes in a short game (or maybe it is a habit, but either way, that is what she was up to). My best hope for winning is a long game (where I hit the ball to the very back of the court, for those not well versed in squash lingo). I know this. But there I was playing her game. The one that she wins at. The one where she is strong. Not sure how it happened. I just adjusted myself to what she was doing, what was important to her, how she showed up. And as a result kept losing to her. Duh!
Now the quality that makes me a good coach and facilitator is that same quality. That ability to see what works for the other person and adjust to them so that they feel comfortable, and so that they can win in their life. Which is great. When I am coaching or facilitating. Not so great when I am playing squash. But that is my specialty, and over time has become my habit.
So I noticed it and then corrected it. And was winning. When she commented I said “When I play your game and not my game I can’t win. My strongest chance of a winning game is to do what I do best. ” And me being me I instantly saw the analogy and how it applied to my life. I do that, I go onto other people’s turf and play their game (been doing it since I was a little girl by the way, then I tried to excel at academics when my real strength and game was people and emotional intelligence). Then when I lose I become disappointed in myself. But all I need to do is change the game I am playing. To come back to my game, how I play, my centre.
I did this recently in the job I just left. There was a certain assignment that needed doing. It wasn’t my strength or my speciality (and, more to the point, it wasn’t even fun for me), but because I am strong in adjacent areas I got called up. I did the assignment, it was ok, I was ok, result was ok, but not what I am used to. Not what it is like when I am playing my game, my court, my rules. My boss’s boss was disappointed (and did not hold back telling me so in a very public, fairly humiliating way – guess people aren’t her strength). And I should have known better than to say yes in the first place. NOT MY GAME!!!
Do it in romantic relationships too. I adjust myself to what they are good at, what is interesting to them, where they play their game. Nothing terrible about that, but what is terrible is I am not bringing my best self. Not playing where I have fun, and where I shine. And inevitably losing. As in losing myself. And if there is any win to be had, I am winning (as in staying in the relationship) as a person who is not entirely whole and happy. Nothing that they do (although I suspect I am draw to men that tend to collude with this behaviour). But something I need to change.
So the lesson here – keep coming back to my game, my strength, my core, what is fun for me. And trust that all the other details will iron themselves out. It is along the lines of what Marianne Williamson speaks of in her audio tapes about the Course in Miracle – we don’t need to focus on changing the world, we need to focus on being our best selves, because that will be our contribution to the world.
Where do you need to come back to your own game? How will you do that?