Seriously, I never thought this would be the effect…
This week, I was asked to be a featured blogger (actually hooked up by my amazing friend, Liz Strauss from Successful Blog), where I was charged with live-tweeting a conference packed not with social media people, not with writers, bloggers and other geeks, but leaders on a very different scale—the World Business Forum.
The lineup included folks like Bill George, the now Harvard professor who, in a past life, built Medtronics from a $1 billion a year “small biz” to a $60 billion a year monster. Guys like corporate titan, Bill Conaty and management wizard, Patrick Lencioni (author of the massive bestseller “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”). People like T. Boone Pickens, who made millions in oil, then lost 90% and rebuilt $4.3 million into $1.5 billion in 3 years, while launching a massive “security-driven” cleaner energy blitz along the way. And, the sole woman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kraft Foods, Irene Rosenfeld.
The two day summit was wrapped up by none other than Bill Clinton. Beyond the fact that I noticed a astonishing preponderance of Bills and a dearth of women on the podium (we’ll save both for another discussion), the experience did something to me that took me completely by surprise…
It made me want to play a bigger game.
Not a bigger money game…a bigger impact game. A bigger footprint game. A bigger life game.
For this to make sense though, I need to reveal a deep dark secret…
I am so far away from my potential, it’s scary. Which is a bit odd to admit, because, that’s not really the public persona I’ve stepped into. When I pitched my first book to my publisher, and here’s another secret, it wasn’t the book that’s now come to be known as Career Renegade. In fact, the only place I wanted my name to appear in the book was on the cover. I didn’t want to write about myself, share my story, reveal any awakenings or lessons I’d learned, spout off about any accomplishments or lay bare my journey. Because, I felt uncomfortable, really uncomfortable positioning myself as the guy who, in any way, shape or form, had it all figured out. I still do.
“That’s madness,” friends, colleagues and editors said, “look at everything you’ve accomplished. You’ve left a career and an income that few ever leave, no matter how much they hate it. You’ve built and sold two companies, you’ve been there for your family, touched the lives of thousands, led with passion…blah, blah, blah (this is where their voices began to sound like the teacher from Charlie Brown).” Over time I grudgingly acknowledged I had done all those things. So, eventually, I came around to accept the fact that I had something, unvarnished as it was, to offer and that’s what ended up going into Career Renegade. And, in the end, I’m proud of the book and humbled by the thousands of notes I’ve received since the book came out that make me smile and know it’s had an impact.
But, the thing is, while seemingly outwardly accomplished, my view from the inside continues to be very different.
Because, while I love so much about what I do, I can’t help but feeling I still have so much more to do, so much more to learn, so much more to show and to offer. Not a little bit…but a massive bit. I’ve been feeling this for a while now, and spending a solid chunk of time hearing about the global impact the luminaries on the stage at the World Business Forum have had, it brought me screaming back to my own need to take some time, look inward and begin to plot a new course that will allow me to more intelligently manifest what I know I am capable of.
And, here’s where it get’s really sticky for me…
One of the things that’s held me back from doing this for a long time is the understanding that I’m not just talking about one game. There are those who are content, at least for a certain period, devoting nearly every waking hour to the pursuit of excellence in a single area of life. Playing one game to win. When you do that, magic tends to unfold in that single area…at least for a while, when almost without fail, all the other areas come crashing down and bring your one standout with it. Because, truth is were not playing a single game. Ever.
We are all playing a bare minimum of 5 games at any given time:
- The work game
- The health game
- The relationship game
- The spiritual game, and
- The mindset game
These are the 5 Mandatory Games.
And, you can’t check just out when it comes to any one. Sure, you can make a conscious choice to emphasize one for a given period of time. But, fact is, you cannot succeed on a massive scale at any one of these games for an extended period of time if you abandon the other four.
Actually, strike that. You can, but to what end? Spend 100% of your energy on the work game and there’s a good chance the other four will wither if not outright die on varying levels. Does making a billion dollars or building a huge company make up for the personal carnage that used to be your husband, your wife, your daugther, your son, your heart and soul, your disease-free body? Only you can answer that in the context of your own life, but I know my answer.
Which is why I was amazed to hear billionaire T. Boone Pickens stop his interviewer during the WBF event to make sure that, among his big accomplishments, the interviewer made sure to tell the audience Boone was also the father to 5 kids and the grandfather to 13. I loved that. Truly, it floored me. But, in the next sentence, he also mentioned his failed marriage…which made me wonder at what point the preeminence of his children and grandchildren took hold (Boone, if you’re reading this, call me).
Nearly every person I know who’s accomplished what others would consider massive outward business success has done it at the expense of their health, their relationships and often both. I can’t do that. I won’t do that. Look at my twitter bio and you’ll see the first two words are “dad” and “husband.” That was intentional. They’re my most important game. But, then, how do I balance the equation when I am increasingly driven to embrace what I know is a level of business capability that far exceeds what I’ve demonstrated to date.
How do I play 5 bigger games all at once?
How do I keep all 5 areas of my life moving strongly forward? And, added to this already gargantuan challenge, I’ve come to realize lately that, while I love to be involved in about 5 different business ventures at any given time, if I choose to play the lead role in all, I’ve now just just raised the total number of games I’m playing from 5 to 9.
Bad, bad move.
If it’s a ridiculous challenge to figure out how to play the 5 core games on a global domination scale, how the hell am I supposed to play on that level with 9 balls in the air?
The answer has become pretty clear…I’m not. It’s not possible. At least, not for me.
The logical answer, then, is that it’s time to make some decisions. Something’s gotta give.
Step 1 is to scale my work game back from 5 to 1 or 2 max. To spend some real, possibly even sobering time contemplating the games that comprise the mandatory 5, that hold the most meaning to me, then run with those 5 and commit to building them out for a long enough period of time and with a level of conviction and deliberate practice that will fuel greatness in all. And, according to the research on greatness, that’ll likely be the better part of 10-20 years. Yes, I said years.
So, it’s crunch time for me.
Time to relegate certain ventures to the occasional hobby. Time refocus and hone. Time to become meticulous about my own productivity and time management skills.
And, literally, as I write this something else is becoming apparent.
While it is quite impossible to play 8 or 9 bigger games at once, maybe it IS possible to play 5 bigger games at once. In fact, maybe it’s essential to move all 5 forward at once. Because, truth is…
The health, relationship, spiritual and mindset games, played well, boost your ability to excel at the work game in a fairly profound way.
Play an optimal health game and you have less pain and a far deeper reserve of energy to bring to work, relationships, mindset and spiritual practice. Play an optimal mindset, relationships, health and spiritual game and you have so much more to bring to your work game. It seems to make so much sense, but I guess the real challenge is going to be bringing this approach to life. Sounds so sensible on paper. Testing the water and seeing how much TIME it takes to do each, though, that’s going to take some figuring.
Does that mean you’ll likely see me scaling back a number of public projects in the name of playing a bigger game with what’s left standing? Very likely. Is it even conceivable that I’ll kill them all? Doubtful, but right now…everythings on the table. Beyond killing ventures, though, it’s more likely my game re-engineering will take one of three forms:
- Selling or becoming a silent partner in some ventures
- Closing down/walking away from some, or
- Teaming with people and handing over control of certain projects
All with the goal of allowing me the space, time and energy to play a bigger, realer, more profound game in the one or two business ventures that remain. And, also to refocus on all of the 5 mandatory games.
I’m honestly not sure how this will all shake out.
But, I am excited at the sense of awakening and what I am sure about is that it’s time to scale back and step up. Time to rise to my potential on a level that has, despite my many stepping-stone successes, still eluded me.
Time to play a much bigger game.
What about you?
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