How are you playing the game of life?

White board with a "leave your comfort zone" flow chart.

Are you playing to win – or are you playing not to lose?

Here’s what playing not to lose looks like.

  • Not speaking up when you have an idea.
  • Keeping your mouth shut and head down even when you disagree.
  • Hoping “they” will notice how hard you’re working and give you that raise or promotion (instead of asking for it).
  • Staying in a job you don’t love instead of taking action to find something better.
  • Doing exactly what you’re told, instead of suggesting a different, possibly better way.
  • Accepting how you’re treated – by anyone – instead of standing up for yourself and what you want.

( Fill in the blank lines with your own ways of playing not to lose.)

Playing not to lose means playing small. It means being and doing less than you’re capable of. It means marking time instead of taking risks. Staying comfortable instead of growing. Compressing yourself into someone you’re not, instead of stretching into who you are.

Sure, you need to assess the risk factors. You need to pick your battles.

But be careful. “Assessing risk” and “picking your battles” can easily become playing not to lose.

This morning’s blog post from Seth Godin was about opportunity cost. As he says, “Every choice has a price.”

This is the price we pay when we make any choice – we lose the opportunities that might have come our way if we’d chosen differently. We can’t not pay the price, because we’re always making choices. As they say, even no choice is still a choice.

But we can be aware and intelligent about the price we’re paying.

When you choose to play not to lose, what opportunities are you missing?

It’s your life and your career. What are you doing with it?