Play up, play up and Play the Game!

When I was at work, there used to be a lot of grumbling about having to “Play the Game” particularly where the performance management system was concerned.

I’m sure there are Games being played whatever field you’re in/on (note to self: should I descend into jokes about football now, or should I leave off? Yes, you’re probably right) and my questions tonight are

a) do you join in, and

b) if not why not?

This musing has been prompted by a comment made to me the other day that there was a Game being played and I needed to join in. “How interesting!” I thought at the time, and I’ve continued to think that at various points over the past 48 hours when I’ve noticed my reactions to that statement cropping up in quiet moments.

My observation (entirely unscientific and based on stuff I made up) is that people fall into a variety of different camps when it comes to playing The Game.

First off there are the Innocents Abroad. They are blissfully unaware that a Game is being played and are so unaffected by the aims and results of The Game that they have no need to know about it.

Lucky Them.

While all around is a seething foment of anxiety, cynicism and despair these happy individuals carry out their allotted tasks and then go home to the bosoms of their families and sleep soundly at night.

As I said, Lucky Them.

Next come the people who know there’s a Game but believe themselves to have been Uninvited. Their perception is that only Special People get invited to play the Game and, as they haven’t been invited, Someone must have decided that they aren’t Special. This leads to huge portions of chips on shoulders liberally seasoned with vats of cynicism and endless remarks about how “stupid” the Game is and how they don’t want to play it anyway, and how the odds are stacked against them and people like them and it’s all part of som huge conspiracy to Do Them Down. These are VERY tiring people to be around if you’re not one of them, and if you spend much time with them it’s a bit like being with the Borg – assimilation is very hard to resist.

(By the way, I’m not a Star Trek fan so I may well have got that analogy completely wrong but I couldn’t think of anything else that assimilates – please feel free to correct me or offer up alternatives!)

Next up are the people who know that The Game’s Afoot and can see the sense in playing but haven’t quite figured out how. What shall I call them? The Almosts will have to do – they’ve almost got it and they try very hard but they never quite get it right. They may be very skilled in the nuts and bolts of The Game, but the finer, more subtle nuances escape them and every time the rules change it takes them just that bit too long to catch up.

Then finally there are The Naturals. These people seem to have been born knowing how and why they need to play The Game. They are adepts and they’re often the people who make up new and subtle variants on the rules so that, whatever Game is being played, they are constantly able to outsmart players with lesser talents. A bit like the expert players of Mornington Crescent.

I’ve moved through a number of these states this week.

Firstly I was an Innocent Abroad. I was bimbling around doing stuff and learning stuff and then I was brought up short when I was told that there was a Game Afoot and I needed to start playing it.

As I thought about it I realised the truth of the statement and I gradually became aware that my next set of responses were coming from the realm of The Uninvited.

“How Interesting!” I thought, as I caught myself thinking “I didn’t leave work just so I could start having to play games again” and “I’m buggered if I’m going to get into all that silliness again” and “that’s all well and good but it’s not for the likes of me” and so on and so forth.

I was also having strange cravings for huge plates of chips but I’m not entirely sure that there’s a causal link there…

Once I’d realised I was having those kinds of thoughts I was able to question my resistance and start to ask myself whether I had more to lose by deliberately staying out of The Game than I did by joining in.

A sentence came to mind that included the words Face, Nose, Spite, Cut, Own and Off.

Ah, I thought. OK then. Best learn the Rules.

I doubt I’ll ever be A Natural at this particular Game, but I can be an Almost and that will do me far more good than choosing to remain Uninvited. I’m the only person that can keep me in or out of this particular Game, and I’m choosing to go in.

Which category are you in, and why ?

If you haven’t thought about it before, it might be an idea to give it some thought…after all, we all need our noses.

One response to “Play up, play up and Play the Game!

  1. Firstly, you made me lose The Game.

    Which I think is fairly apt; the whole point of the game is not to remember that you’re playing the game. I think that’s what ‘Naturals’ are doing; in a way they’re much like the Innocents Abroad in that they’re only half aware of playing the game, and it doesn’t cause them any worries. My advice then would be to play the game, but try to forget that you’re playing it, as then you will play it much more naturally (in the same way I assume that people are giving good advice when they tell me ‘don’t think about hitting the ball, just hit it’ . It’s just that I haven’t worked out how not to think about it yet.)

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