Play BIG: Give Up Cynicism, Embrace Possibility & Greatness


For the purposes of this conversation when I speak ‘big’ I am pointing at a combination of the following: standing for a possibility and/or set of values; and how one shows up and travels in life – one’s being.

Let’s being the conversation.

What kind of a being is human-being? Wiser folk than I have pointed out that man is being-in-the-world-with-others. How is this relevant to the game of playing big in life?

It occurs to me that there is only so much that you/i can do on our own.  There is a limit to how much work I can do just by myself. There is a limit to the impact I can make if the only person that I can count on is myself.  Which is my way of saying that any game, no matter how big I say it is, is small if the only person involved in playing that game is myself.

Put differently, truly playing BIG, and in standing for possibility that in some way-form creates a ‘better world’, involves one’s fellow human beings in playing BIG.  So how I relate to and stand in relation to my fellow human being matters.

What are the choices?  Is the default, the choice that is in play – in me, in the culture I find myself in – one of cynicism?

“Cynicism is perhaps a rational response to despair, but it is one of the most corrosive of human states.….. The cynic will sigh knowingly and say “That’s just the way the world works. Humans are essentially corrupt and selfish – pretending otherwise is just naive.” In that way they justify constraints and rationalise limits.”

– Dr Jeff Sutherland, SCRUM

What is the alternative? What stance can I live from that opens up a world of possibility and unites me with my fellow human beings in playing for BIG possibilities?

“Over the last two decades I have delved deeply into the literature of what makes greatness. The surprising answer is that, fundamentally, humans want to be great. People want to do something purposeful – to make the world, even if just in a small way, a better place.”

– Dr Jeff Sutherland, SCRUM

If I choose to show up and travel in life from this stance towards my fellow human beings then what it there for me to do to call forth this greatness that typically lies dormant in many of us?

“The key is getting rid of what stands in their way, removing the impediments to their becoming who they are capable of becoming.”

– Dr Jeff Sutherland, SCRUM

Personally, I’d rewrite this. How so?  I would rewrite it as:

“The key is getting rid of what stands in their way, removing the impediments to their becoming who they already are at the core of their being.”

It occurs to me that the world gives the label ‘leader’ to s/he who calls forth the greatness of others in the service of possibilities that create-leave the world a better place for us.

Play BIG By Granting Yourself Permission To Be Fractured/Broken


My parents were great at beating me up. How so? By pointing out where I failed to match their expectations. My school teachers were great at beating me up. How so? My pointing out where I failed to meet their standards? In the business world, my managers have been great at beating me up. How so? By pointing out my deficiencies / weaknesses during the appraisal process.

It worked. Over the course of time I became a master of beating myself. Never content to be and to enjoy that which I have. Always striving to do (more, different), become (more, better, different) and look like I have it all together (for myself, for others).

One day I got it. I gave myself permission to be, including the permission to be broken, imperfect.  Someone told me that I lacked ambition. I found myself saying “I give myself permission to be not-ambitious”. Someone told me that some work project had not turned out to her satisfaction. I found myself saying “I take full responsibility”. Someone charged me being selfish. I found myself saying “I give myself permission to be selfish”.  Someone told me that which I write at The Customer & Leadership Blog has typos. I found myself saying “I give myself permission to make mistakes including typos.” The response was something like “But you will taint your personal brand!”. I found myself saying “I give myself permission to be ok with a tainted personal brand.”

I give myself permission to be. It occurs to me that giving oneself the permission to be is the access to freedom. It is liberation from the tyranny of the “should”: I should be this, not that. This is not popular with the many who seek to shape me to their image of who I should be through their “should”.  Yet, I notice that when I grant myself permission to be, I grant myself peace.

I leave you with words of wisdom:

“It’s a naked thing to show we are fractured, the we do not have it all together. Broken all the way through to the bottom. What freedom that is, to be what we are in the moment, even if it’s unacceptable…..

Think about it. We are always doing a dance – I’m good,  I’m this, I’m that. Rather than the truth – I don’t know who I am. Instead, we scurry to figure it out. We write another book, buy another blouse, exhaust ourselves. Imagine the freedom to let it be, this not-knowing. How vulnerable. This is why I love the attendant. He said who he was – a broken man …. When his teacher asked for more, the monk didn’t do a jig to win him over. There was no more. Usually, we will do anything to cover up a reality so naked.”

– Natalie Goldberg, The Best Buddhist Writing 2008

It occurs to me that when I granted myself permission to be, I did not just grant myself peace, I also granted myself power.  That is another conversation, for another day.

Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Living Well & Playing Big


Until recently, I had known and related to Bruce Lee as a martial artist and as an actor. It turns out that he was much more. He was also someone who looked deeply into life.  Today I share with you some of his wisdom.

Truth Is Outside All Fixed Patterns

Conditioning is to limit a person within the framework of a particular system. All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns. 

The Problems Of Belief

Belief binds, belief isolates. An established set style. Chained down. In bondage. Bound. It can never comprehend the new, the fresh, the uncreated. The means destroy the freshness, the newness, the spontaneous discovery. 

Slaves To Patterns

Because one does not want to be disturbed, to be made uncertain, he establishes a pattern of conduct, of thought, a pattern of relationship to man, etc. Then he becomes a slave to the pattern and takes the pattern to be the real thing.

Tradition Enslaves

Classical methods and tradition make the mind a slave – you are no longer an individual, but merely a product. Your mind is a result of a thousand yesterdays. 

The classical man is just a bundle of routines, ideas, and expressed tradition. When he acts, he is translating every living moment in terms of the old. 

Organisations and Systems Produce Prisoners Of Concepts

I no longer am interested in systems or organisation. Organised institutes tend to produce patternized prisoners of a systematised concept, and the instructors are often fixed into a routine. Of course what is worse is that by imposing the members to fit a lifeless preformation, their natural growth is blocked.

Growth and Self Expression Lie Outside of Methods, Patterns, Styles and Systems

Man is constantly growing and when he is bound by a set pattern of ideas, or ‘Way’ of doing things, that’s when he stops growing. 

True observation begins when one is devoid of set patterns; freedom of expression occurs when one is beyond system

The Creating Individual Is More Important Than Any System

The individual is of first importance, not the system. Remember that man created method and not that method created man, and do not strain yourself twisting into someone’s preconceived pattern, which unquestionably would be appropriate for him, but not necessarily for you….Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more important than any established style or system. 

On Liberating Oneself And Living Powerfully

Use no way as a way. When there is a ‘Way’ therein lies the limitation. And when there is a circumference it traps. And if it traps, it rots. And if it rots, it’s lifeless. 

You cannot hurt that which is formless. The softest thing cannot be snapped and emptiness cannot be defined

Source: Striking Thoughts, Bruce Lee’s Wisdom For Daily Living.