Playing Games at Work?

Do you feel like you are spinning wheels, rolling the dice, and moving backward as much as forward at work? When did work become more complicated than a board game, and what can you do about it? First, identify the issues. For example, which of these board games sounds most like what is happening at work?


TROUBLE: a race around the board.

The goal: move multiple game pieces across the finish line.

Do you feel like you are trying to move so many projects, people, and ideas across the finish line, spreading your attention so thin that you fear you are mediocre at a lot and great at nothing?

You can't move until you roll the die. 

Every move is a role of the dice, a risk you must take to move forward. And no matter how big you want to go, there is still a bubble over you - holding you back from and influencing the outcome.

The only way to win is to knock others back.

No collaboration here; land in the same space, and you send your opponent back to the beginning. There is no room for collaborating or working together for mutual success. 

You can't win if you don't get it exactly right.

You may sit in the same spot until you roll the exact number. Unfortunately, "close enough" is not enough, and many companies are waiting for your unicorn skills to develop before they entrust you to move to the next level. However, they were willing to go outside for the last person and rolled the dice on their abilities - and by the way, they had to go "home," too.


In the game of SORRY, the question is: are you sorry?

No rolling the dice here; it is all about the cards you are dealt. 

In the game SORRY, your cards determine your next move; you are expected to do the best with what you have. Does that sound familiar? On top of that, you may have to forfeit a move if your actions (pawn) are blocking your forward movement. Ever wonder why one misstep often holds you back when you have five years of solid performance?

Two pawns cannot be in the same space.

Why is there always a favorite, a predetermined succession plan? While there may be a top performer at the moment, business is cyclical, and there was another top performer last quarter and last year. In addition, different leaders bring different skills and abilities to the table. ka

Of course, in SORRY, you can only move one way unless given "SPECIAL PERMISSION."

Are you waiting for someone to bless your next move, decision, or even a menial budget approval? If you find it complicated to move in the right direction for the business, you may be playing the game of SORRY.


LIFE is complex and full of choices.

You immediately have to start by choosing college or career.

Just like in life, there is pressure to choose college or a career, and the anguish over the decision is real. But how many people do you know who have changed fields, only partially utilizing their degrees? If you still feel guilty for not entirely using your degree, STOP. You had to choose at 18 - things have changed, and it is challenging to discover your calling at 18.

Next, you spin the wheel and hope you land in a good spot.

If you are still hoping to land in a good spot, this is a reminder - it is all your choice. Gone are the days when everyone blindly follows the person in front of them up the corporate ladder. There are more opportunities than you can imagine, but exploring what is best for you takes work.

The banker controls your salary.

In LIFE, the banker controls your salary. Corporate America begs you to believe in abundance; there is more to get when discussing business, margins, and customers. But when it comes to giving you a raise or promotion, scarcity sets in, and we hesitate to ask for more.

The original game of LIFE focused on fulfillment, but they updated it and added money.

Initially, we start our careers excited to do the job and quickly realize that the money and workload do not always match. As a result, some begin chasing money and lose touch with what they originally enjoyed about the work.


CHESS: a game of strategy.

The pawns are disposable.

Feeling like they can get rid of you at any minute? While it is true that everyone is replaceable, it is essential to understand your value. There will always be a job for top performers who can tell their stories.

Protect the king at all costs.

There is a reason they say $h!t rolls downhill. Maybe your leader has an addiction to being right or just as bad; your organization's culture does not create a safe space for the truth. If you find yourself in an organization always "protecting the king," it will be hard to get any meaningful work done.

The game can be won by involuntary resignation.

Whether it is a cost-cutting measure, playing it safe with a potential recession, or throwing your hands up because you can't take it anymore - some perceive it as a win/lose situation. However, it could not be further from the truth.


When did it get so complicated?

Why can't we do what we say and say what we do? When did it get so complicated? The problem with each of these games is you are playing against someone. It is time to look at work differently, and you must take responsibility for managing your career.

While the environment influences us, you can choose how you want to show up. Aligning your values and expectations and setting boundaries will make you a happier employee.

If you continually feel like there is TROUBLE at work, it may be time to say SORRY - NOT SORRY and play LIFE by your own rules. Stop guarding the king and work on what it will take to show up as your best self. Be brave enough to take responsibility for building your talent strategy for one.

Tired of playing games? Do you need an unbiased sounding board outside of work? 🗣️ I help high-performing corporate careerists become the hero in their professional journey. Use this link to set up a time to learn more:


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