Play BIG: Own It!

It is the way it is and the way it is not

This is simply so no matter where one finds one’s self, and with whatever it is that one is facing and/or grappling with: It is the way it is and the way it is not.

If one can be ok with the way it is and is not then one can simply go about one’s business – living – harmoniously.  Conversation over.

Playing small with regards to the way it is and the way it is not

Rare, is the person (in the West) who can be ok with the way it is and is not.  The conversing starts here: that which is wrong with the world, wrong with this government, wrong with state of leadership, wrong with the media, wrong with the business world, wrong with capitalism/socialism/communism, wrong with the folks I work with, wrong with the folks I live with…..

When I am in this place, the place of its not ok the way it is and is not, what is it that I am doing?  I am in the stands looking at that which is occurring  over there in the arena. Not liking that which I see, I complain about him/her/them/this/that.

This showing up and operating from the stands complaining about what is and is not happening in the arena is playing small.  Playing small is ubiquitous – I do it, you do it, we all do it.  Playing small is the dominant mode of being-in-the-world.

Playing BIG with regards to the way it is and the way it is not

There is an alternative to complaining about that which is and is not. Or about becoming resigned to the way that it is and is not.  What’s the alternative?

Playing BIG as in moving from the stands into the arena, taking ownership as in owning it heart-body-soul, shaping that which is occurring, effecting change.  Realise this: the switch from playing small to playing BIG with regards to that which matters is the biggest change you can make to your experience of your existence in this world!

Allow me to share a small example and thus bring this conversation to life.  It’s Thursday morning for me, it’s Thursday afternoon for my five colleagues in India.  I ask them what they have accomplished over the last 3.5 days. Silence. I ask them who is leading them / managing the work that has to be accomplished. Silence.  I ask them if they know what they have to work on tomorrow. Silence.  What is clear is that no work has been assigned, no work has been done, and no work will be done if things continue this way.

Playing small, the default, would have been to complain: complain about the chap who is supposed to be leading this team and managing their work; complain about the onshore-offshore model of getting IT development done; complain about the situation that I find myself in; and finally to complain about myself to myself for allowing myself to be in this  position once again – different project, same old s**t!

This time I chose to play BIG: to own it!  What do I mean by that?  I mean to own the way it is and is not AND accept responsibility for shaping the way that it is and is not.  What did this involve?  It involved:

  • Asking for help from a person who has the requisite knowledge of the development work to be done by this team;
  • Working with this person to think through how long it is likely to take to configure/code the user stories, and which development skills are needed for each user story;
  • With the help of this person assigning the right work to each person – day by day for the next two weeks;
  • Spending half a day copying information from one system into an Excel spreadsheet;
  • Communicating the assignment of work along with all the information they need (Excel sheet) to do their work; and
  • Accepting that owning this would necessarily mean trespassing on the territory of the chap who is officially leading/managing this team and working with the trouble this person can be counted on to make.

I invite you to consider that the ultimate in playing BIG is owning (the state of) that which matters to you: the state of your health, the state of your relationships with family/friends, the state of your community, the state of your workplace, the state of the environment, the state of the word….

If I have not been clear then let me say this: Owning some state of affairs (as it is and is not) is to take FULL responsibility for the way it is and is not.  That necessarily includes taking FULL responsibility to shaping the game, effecting the changes that one wishes to see in this state of affairs.  If there is to any complaining then it is complaining to oneself about oneself as a form of reflection to call forth more effective ways of being-doing.

Now it is up to you to choose whether, for that which matters to you, you wish to play small – in the stands complaining and/or resigned to that which is happening or not in the arena – or BIG -in the arena, taking action, effecting change / shaping the play.y

Since I wrote this one of best friends died. Brain cancer. So I say to you and me: We are mortal, our days are limited, so if you and I are up for owning it then let’s start owning it right now!  I can assure you that it has been that much easier to deal with the loss of my friend knowing I had owned my part/contribution in his existence since I found out he had terminal cancer back in May17. He died on Monday, and I spent three hours by his bedside on Sunday – talking, helping, making him laugh.  In this time of sadness this makes a big difference – no regrets!

I thank you for your listening, and wish you the very best.  Until the next time….

Aha: I am cause in the matter of!

I can become crazy annoyed with one of my sons.  What in particular presses my buttons and has me hopping mad?  He is talking about something, sharing something, asking for something, complaining about something.  Listening, I say something like “Enough. I don’t want to hear any more. Stop. This is not the time. No more!”  What does he do?  He continues on interrupted.

What do I take that to mean?  I give it many interpretations, many stories. And it goes something like this: he does not respect me; he is selfish; he lacks social skills; he is stupid!  What does that give rise to?  Either I leave the room or I put him down through labelling or I shout at him.  Whilst I regret this later and apologise it is true that in the moment I feel justified, even righteous.

A funny thing happened today.  Son asked me to take him to buy a torch.  We enter the store, I ask one of the clerks and we get to the section where the torches are hanging.  We pick a torch and head out to the cash tills to pay. It is late, towards closing time.  With the torch in his hand son starts moving towards and checking each of the closed tills.  I tell him they are closed. He continues. I go over take the torch from him head to the only staffed desk (Customer Services), pay and head for the car.

My son is already at the car. I open it and we both enter.  And I say “Son it occurs to me that you lack common sense..” He stops me and say “I don’t want to hear it.”  What do I do?  I carry on uninterrupted. What does he say? He says “I told you I don’t want to hear it.”  What do I do?  I continue saying what I was saying without missing a word!  What does he do?  He puts his hands over his ears.  What do I do? I continue speaking!

We get home.  What hits me?  It hits me for the very first time that I am a hypocrite.  I have just done to my son that which I detest when he does it to me.  Worse still, it hits me that this is not the first time I have done this.  Then this question hits me hard: “Am I the cause of his behaviour? Did he learn it from me?”

The answer?  Yes, it is highly likely that I am the cause in the matter of how my children show up: what they say, what they do, how they say it, how they do it….

What is present for me?  A certain humility. A recognition that I am cause in the matter of my life. And that I am reaping that which I have sown – at least when it comes to the behaviour of wife, sons, and daughter.  Sitting with that I am clear that there is no space for complaining to show up. Nor any space for me to play victim.

How about you?  Where in your life are you the cause of that which shows up in your life and of which you get righteous and complain?