I got an email this past week letting me know about the broadcast schedule for Le Tour de France 2016. I was slightly puzzled because the Tour doesn’t start until July 2, and it seemed strange that anyone would plan more than three months in advance…especially in the age of DVRs.
The mail left me feeling some type of way, though.
Spanning almost every part of my life has been an evolving understanding of “the long game.” I last wrote about this as I tried, clumsily, to explain how I understood creationism and science to be intimately connected via one of my favorite but must challenging topics I think and write about: infinity.
So what do I think “playing the long game” means, to me, today.
At 36, having finally discovered what I believe is the core of faith, it means a disinterest in my personal gain or loss during any time period I can comprehend.
It does mean a relentless focus on living in line with my principles, living ethically, trying to help others, forgiving quickly myself and others so I don’t waste precious time, and trying my best to always avoid hurting or harming others.
I speak about this here, here and here in three of the most personal things I’ve ever written. And this way of living, faithfully and ethically and focused on my principles is not something I do even close to perfectly. But I try, and I reflect, and I work to do better.
This leads me to the crux of this blog – I had choices to make over the course of the past two years and found myself in several situations where it would have been easier to play a game of short term gains versus the long game I aspire to play.
Instead of jockeying and political play, I just did the best work I could do and gave my all to it. As others began to operate out of insecurity and fear, I held myself in an almost unyielding way to the following principles:
- ACCOUNTABLE: Am I taking responsibility for the outcomes I’m trying to achieve, am I raising my hand and acknowledging every time I was wrong or could have done better?
- AUTHENTIC & FEARLESS: Am I representing my point of view, challenging dogma and entrenched tradition, and doing what I believe to be the best thing for the business I manage? Am I willing to cross any organizational divides to get done what needs to get done?
- UNIMPEACHABLE: Am I doing what is right not right for me, am I avoiding any and all self-serving outcomes, am I acting in the best interest of advancing the future of human productivity?
This meant that at times I didn’t do the political positioning that might have resulted in some sort of different reality today. Living by these principles also didn’t mean I didn’t piss people off, disrupt, or otherwise cause a bit of commotion.
But it does mean that after two years, I feel 100% good about the body of work I produced, the way I got it done, and the relationships I’ve developed and the credibility I’ve built.
I played the long game and I’m still doing it.
This past week I wrote a mail which essentially sought to do what I felt was best for the organization and largely gave up the entirety of my job to others, who I believe should own that work as the work I did in the past two years now becomes mainstreamed.
There is risk in that approach — it leaves me vulnerable if I were a person who plays the short game.
Playing the long game, I know that it met all the needs of the principles I outlined above, put the business outcomes and human productivity first, and whether it does or does not ultimately result in something seemingly unfavorable happening to me — at the end of the long game, I’ll be okay.
And as is said in one of my favorite movies, “Everything will be alright in the end, so if it is not alright, it’s not the end.”