Monday, September 22, 2008

Why I like games

I love my job, and I think that most of the time it brings out the best of me, but it's been wearing me down.

During September and October, I have to be more of a manager than a leader. Leadership is my comfort zone: I'm good at listening, bringing people together, solving problems, breaking down siloes, working with ideas, helping people connect to things that are bigger than their day-to-day jobs. Being a leader is such a big part of who I am that I tend to walk around on that same skin at other times, including in my social life.

But in September and October each year, I have to be more of a manager because there is no time for the bigger ideas: it's about execution.  So the past few weeks have been really hard.  As a manager in this period of high stress, the team has to rely on each other.  In terms of any measure of personality type, I have one of the most diverse groups you can find.  But they're the same in that everyone is a perfectionist.  There is very little room for forgiveness, and at this time of year we forget to forgive.  So I have to behave myself and hide my own frustration with individuals or dynamics; I have to mediate disputes and take in complaints with as straight a face as I can, not encouraging second-guessing or whining, when I just want to scream with the same frustration as everyone else.

Playing games with friends is the antidote to this.

Some people use alcohol to unwind and take off their psychological business suits.  And, yes, it does unwind me, too.  But put me around a table with good friends -- or even strangers! -- and let me play a game of poker or a board game or anything where it's me against them, and I become my true self.  I can be competitive, creative, resentful, playful, silly.  I don't have to contribute ideas, I don't have to listen, I don't have to solve other people's disputes with each other, because the cards do that.  I might second guess myself on a hand, but because a game of poker has hand after hand or a board game has round after round, I revel in the learning curve.  (OK, I will still remember the two kings I folded, still thinking about the size of the pot, so I'm not perfect there.)  But I do love playing again and again, always trying anew.  (I guess I'll blog separately about how poker is like baseball.)

Helping people and community and team always do better is why I love my work. Being a part of a group of people playing cards, an impromptu community, but not having to lead it, is the best way for me to unwind.

1 comment:

MVL said...

You folded KK? When? To me I hope? LOL.