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Resilience - Make work a game!

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

Resilience is all about managing yourself and situations in a sustainable way and we can all be resilient in a variety of ways to fit a variety of scenarios that works for us as individuals – there is no one size fits all – and that’s because we all have different needs and starting points in our existing resilience toolkit.

There are other articles and resources on the subject of resilience here for you to explore.

So, what I will be talking about in this blog is just a suggestion, a possibility, an alternative way of thinking about work and being more resilient that may work for you because it works for me.

There are many tools in my personal resilience toolkit, and this is one that I tend to apply to work situations. I call it “work is work – it’s not real life but it is a useful game” which is how I remind myself of the principle that gives me the resilience – that this is an alternative and useful mindset about work. What it means is that I can distance myself from the concept of work and change how I think about it.

'But work is serious' I can hear some of you shouting - 'playing games is not what work is all about!!!' And in some ways I agree... so what is it that I am really sharing with you here?

When I first developed this way of thinking about work I wanted to associate it with something fun, something that was pretty much the opposite to how I was experiencing work at the time. It didn’t take long for me to realise that ‘games are fun – so what if I was to think of work as a game – can the rules of playing games be applied to work?’ I asked myself. So that is what I did, I went through how we play games and the strategies that we use to play them.

I am sharing a mindset, a way of looking at work through a different lens, one that gives you a sense of control and freedom. Right now, when a lot of the control and freedom we used to have is missing because of restrictions in the way we live and work, having a more useful mindset is one of the ways we can be more resilient and manage ourselves sustainably.

It’s also useful to remember that work is an equal relationship between the employer and the employee. This is because they need our time, so we sell it to them, a fact we often forget, slipping into a belief that the employer has all the cards, so having a mindset that treats work as a game is a way of keeping the relationship equal with both sides holding a set of cards and playing the game equally.

We know that games have rules and players and that the game will have some kind of pre-determined outcome. There will be fun along the way (otherwise it’s not really a game) and at some time during the gameplay the outcome will be reached - so let us think this through and consider the strategies that are used to play a game.

To successfully play a game you need a ‘game plan’ and it’s good to have an outcome in mind, essentially ‘what is the point of the game?’, so a really good game plan for work considers these topics:

  1. What do you want to win, what’s the goal for this game?

  2. How do you want to win - do you want to win big or small? Fast or slow?

  3. and if it’s a team game, who do you want to win with? Who will help you succeed in this game?

Once the point of the game has been decided the next step is to add in the game rules. You need to think about:-

  1. What rules does the work game already have, where are the boundaries, what can’t you do that risks being out of the game completely!

  2. How can you have fun and play the game within the rules, what brings a smile to your face that isn’t already there.

  3. What does success in the work game look like? Is it to just have more fun or is it to get recognised for that promotion.

Once I have my game plan I can start the day and play the game. The best thing about playing the game is that it starts fresh every day – new day, new game plan. And at the end of the day I look back and see how well the game went - I check to see if my outcome - or 'game plan' - for that day was successful, and then put the game away until it's time to play again!

Seeing it as a game makes the whole process of 'work' just that bit more manageable. It even introduces the possibility of fun! Once I step into work it's 'game on' and to be good at any game, whether it is Monopoly or Poker, Scrabble or Darts - in fact ANY GAME, you must have a game plan. And to have a really good game plan you have to know the other players in the game and the game rules.

Having a game plan is as simple as playing the game itself. If you were playing Monopoly your plan might be to buy everything you land on, or only buy cheap plots and put hotels on them quickly. Whatever way you play, you have a plan which is designed to give you the best chance of winning and having fun along the way - otherwise why are you playing?

I quite often say ‘if you are not having fun, you are doing something wrong!’ so if this is the case for you then you need a better game plan…

So when you finish your game of work today, get ready for a whole new game tomorrow and make a game plan that will tip the odds in favour of you - not just surviving, but also thriving with resilient and sustainable strategies made just for you.

Have fun!!

Don’t delay – get even more resilient!

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