While playing snakes and ladders with one of our sons, he proceeded to define a set of game rules that were not striclty part of the game. So we played the game with that modified set of rules. Children master the art of imagination. Rarely do they participate in a game where they do not have a say in the rules. It is their game, and they make the rules.
As adults we become more strategic about this. We deliberately allow ourselves to comply with overarching sets of rules in business or personal life that generally position us favourably. But in doing so we also forego something, and the cost of this is not always obvious or immediately apparent. Ever so quietly compliance creates a mindset and culture of perpetuating, and eventually even protecting the status quo. Last week I explored this subject in my post “The most dangerous assumption ever”.
What we forego is a degree of control. Specifically, we forego that level of control which allows new possible outcomes to emerge.
As a design professional I was trained to question pretty well everything, but even that is no safeguard. After a while we become accustomed to challenging ourselves with the same questions.
So how we reclaim that imaginative rule inventing capacity that we had at age 5?
Begin by observing…
What is the underlying “game” in a particular transaction, interaction or relationship?
When we understand the game, the rules will gradually become apparent. And when we know them, we can literally begin to mess around with them, create new possibilities, and have fun doing it!
- What are the rules that you have sub-conciously agreed to play by?
- What other moves would be possible if you ignored those rules?
- What happens if you took the rule and reversed it, or made it the opposite?
- How are the rules impeding of helping your intentions?
- And finally, what is possible you take a rule from another game and apply it here?
Cultivate this this skill, and in time you will inevitably find yourself ahead of the game…
Martial arts, whether in practice or in philosophy, have been a fundamental part of my beliefs since I was a kid.
One principle Sensei would always emphasize when we were practising our punches or kicks against pads was that we should aim to kick not at the pad, but right through the person holding it.
This may sound extreme, but the experience was remarkable. If you were the person holding the pad, you would certainly feel the difference. It didn’t matter if the opponent delivering the punch was half my size, a through punch or kick would always be felt and was enough to displace me while holding the pad by a foot or two and often throw me off my spot. Whereas a punch or kick at the pad could always be resisted and the impact force easily absorbed by your arms.
When we set a goal, we naturally tend to work to the goal, not through the goal. In doing so we often loose the momentum that we have acquired leading up to it. How often do we hear of people tracking fabulously and then giving up or running out of drive so close to their goal!. They had their eyes on the finish line, not at the ground beyond it.
Punching through is different to a stretch goal.
A stretch goal is an ambitious target beyond the goal.
Punching through means not winding down to finish at the goal, to continue at full speed until the target has been passed.
Even a marginal pass is ok, the key is that you are applying the brakes only after you have reached it.
What tends to happen in reality is that this seemingly unimportant extra effort is precisely that what got you there. That little extra effort is what separates the finishers from everyone else.
Whatever it is you are seeking to achieve, whether you can see your goal or not, don’t slow down until you have passed it.
When you set a goal, know what it means to pass it:
Is it a sales target?
Is it a chapter completed?
Is it an eating habit change or exercise program?
When you know what the turf looks like just beyond the finish line, you will know to keep going until you are standing on it.
Sensei always used to joke “Punching at someone will only get you into a fight, but punching through will overpower your opponent.”
Don’t spend your life fighting, live life winning.