Think about this statement, “Playing to win is not the same as playing not to lose”. What does playing to win mean for you? How would you know what playing to win looks and feels like? Do you do this as CIO? In thinking about this myself I’ve got some answers, and of course some more questions.
The first pre-requisite that Playing to Win (PTW) requires is an acknowledgement that there is an overall outcome that is to be achieved with any significant endeavor. I’m sure some things like going to the bathroom, may not have a PTW component, but almost everything else does. Is there any place where you play to win? Well, to answer that question you must first answer what does PTW mean and look like? When I think of PTW I think of a scene in the sci-fi movie Gattaca. In the film, an older brother (without genetic modification) is challenged by his younger genetically perfect brother in a swim contest to see who could swim the farthest into the open ocean. The older brother without genetic modifications wins the race. After beating his genetically superior brother, the weaker boy, (with the heart condition no less), drags the “superior” brother back to the beach. Later, when they are adults, they perform the same challenge. Again the weaker brother wins and has to save his younger brother’s life. The younger brother asks him “How do you do it? How did you beat me? How could you possibly have enough energy to make it back?” The older boy looks back to his younger brother, the genetically perfect, most statistically preferred candidate and says “I never saved anything for the trip back!”
That in its essence is playing to win. Putting everything, absolutely everything on the court and making it work. In that example, the older brother wasn’t conserving anything for the trip back, he was putting everything into swimming out to sea. The trip back wasn’t even connected to the current endeavor.
Many people want to play hard and play safe or more accurately play comfortable. PTW hurts. PTW is scary. In PTW you may lose. Playing not to lose (PNTL) is safer, more doable, practical, it gives you the best of both worlds. The only problem is that the worlds it gives you access to are imitations of what could be. Mere constructs, ideas of what it could be like. The other thing PNTL does is it discounts your own ability to create and construct the worlds & desires you would like. It assumes that you are a victim of the world around you and have no control of the things that enter your experience. While it may be true that you don’t have 100% control of everything that shows up in your experience, you do control how you want to react, decide about them. And in that action, that decision, lies a true source of power that PNTL ignores and downplays.
So now that I’ve explained PNTL vs. PTW, here is the difficult question? Where do you PTW? In what areas does it show up? If your like most people, then it probably shows up in fits and spurts. You may even be playing to come in the top 5, Playing to Place as it were. (PTP) So what would your life look like if you PTW more than PTP? That is the question I want you to explore as you live the CIO role.