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Why you need to Play the Game

There will always be decisions made that you don't understand or don't believe in. It is the leader's job to communicate clearly the vision and expectations of why this decision is best. However, there will still be moments when you don't agree with the direction and decision. 

What then?

Answer: You play the Game!

I can already hear the "Nay-Sayers."

"No. You need to be true to yourself and you need to stand up for what is right."   

This is important to understand: Context and timing mean everything. However, it is important to understand that moving up in your career, learning to work with tough personalities, working with and not against the authority over you (teacher, boss, parent, coach) is vital to your future success. 

The crazy part is that the decision made does make sense to the person that made it. It does not need to make sense to you right away. You are not the leader. You might be one day, but you will not get to a place of influence unless you PLAY THE GAME now. 

Doing a good job and you doing everything you can to be the best student, team member, or employee requires at some level, you faking it. I am reminded of one of my mentors telling me to "Fake it until you make it." 

Does this mean you are a "Fake Person" with no integrity? No! Let's say your boss or teacher comes in and has a dumb idea and your response is, "That's a dumb idea."  And it might be, but is this response going to get you anywhere?  Or if a customer has an idiotic complaint that makes no rational sense, and you tell them with no hesitation, "you are an idiot." This too will not help you. 

Choose your Battles wisely

Consider these 3 helpful ways to PLAY THE GAME. 

1. Be Truthful but not Brutal 

Your timing is everything. Your wife asks you if the Thanksgiving turkey was a little dry and your answer is, "It was drier than the hottest day in the Sierra desert." How is this going to benefit you?  Grace, Love, and the proper timing will allow you to answer that question with honesty but not hurting the person in the process, which will get you nowhere. 

2. Consider the Fall Out

Your boss wants something from you that is really difficult. I mean do they understand what they are asking of you?  This answer is not important, the correct answer is letting them know you will do everything you can to get it done because whatever you are being asked to do, you need to consider the people that follow you. They need you to lead them well and that might mean you take on the pain from those above you for their benefit. 

3. Turn "Playing the Game" into a game

In your head say, "I am going to build a relationship with this boss/teacher/coach that I do not like." "I am going to be the one person he can count on more than anyone else." I have a former athlete that is at one of the Military Academies. They have to do ridiculous things and have to follow the dumbest rules. My athlete has decided to follow every rule better and with more conviction and gusto than necessary. He has also decided to have fun with it too. You want to get promoted for the right reasons, so do the things your leader wants so you can get there. 


You play the game for benevolent reasons.

You play the game to get in a better position to lead. For your Team's sake. 

You play the game to develop empathy and a different perspective from the authority over you.

You play the game so you can move forward and stop the worrying or attitude that builds resentment. 

And if you don't play the game at some level, you will be stuck in a position while less qualified people move ahead of you because your ego and pride were too big. 

Learn to Play the Game

and stop complaining. Be the change you want!



*Thank you Jacko Willink for your leadership and wisdom on this subject. Check out his podcast on the link below.