What would you say if I told you that you’re never really stuck in life? Rick Tamlyn, author of Play Your Bigger Game: 9 Minutes to Learn, a Lifetime to Live says that,
"You may feel stuck because you have been focused on what you’re lacking, but when you play on the game board, you focus on your gifts and how to unleash their beauty and power."
He believes that we’re never stuck and that we’re actually always on one of the 9 squares in this game called life. I received the book Play Your Bigger Game: 9 Minutes to Learn, a Lifetime to Live free from Hay House for review purposes. I had eyed this book several months ago and I was really looking forward to reading it. While the premise of the book is good to at least console you a bit and make you aware that you’re never as lost, stuck or alone in life as you think you are, I recognize that this book has some areas for improvement.
The author Rick Tamlyn, who co-created this game with Laura Whitworth, states that:
"The Bigger Game offers a philosophy and methodology for finding and releasing the full expression of your purpose and talents so that all of your years may be golden-and fun, too."
So this philosophy isn’t necessarily embraced by everybody, but it is a solid philosophy nevertheless. For many, it’s a relief to know that the term ”‘Bigger’ [in the title] refers not to the size of the game but to the impact it has on you and your personal world around you…You will feel more capable and more resilient, because playing your bigger game ignites your creativity and excites your mind.”
What Does the Bigger Game Consist Of?
The 9 squares (which are presented until a quarter of the way into the book, a little too far into the book if you ask me) are:
* comfort zones (which aren’t positive or negative in this context, it just means that you’re comfortable where you are),
* hunger (when you desire something more. It can take three forms, either we don’t want something, we want more of something or we sense that something is missing),
* compelling purpose (you’re looking for or have found a driving purpose) “Your compelling purpose is something so powerful that once you identify it, you can’t not do it, any more than a great singer can quiet her voice or a great writer can lock his stories inside. This irrepressible desire or force within comes from a place of deep knowing. It’s very much a part of who you are or, perhaps more likely, who you want to become… Your hunger pushes you. Your compelling purpose pulls you.”
* Your compelling purpose evolves as you grow. It is comprised of these audiences:
* Yourself when you’re young
* Others when you’re moving from childhood into adolescence
* The Field when you’re older (it stands for the world around you)
* Once you find your compelling purpose, “There’s no other option but to do what would normally be extraordinary, but now is required.”
* assess (this is where you want to double check how you are doing, where you are and where you need to go)
* bold action (this is where you make the leap to make it happen).
* gulp (you feel both excitement and fear at this stage. You’re nervous, but ready for action),
* sustainability (a checkpoint where you identify what you need to do to sustain yourself and have a lasting impact)
* allies (“this is where you stand when you’re recruiting, building, and nurturing the support network for you and your bigger game.”)
* investment (you’re considering the time, money, effort, plan and process you’ll need “to create, run, and sustain your bigger game.”)
The Pros about the Book and the Game:
* I like the premise– we’re always playing in this game called life and are on one of the 9 tic-tac-toe-like squares. Note that it’s interesting author chose “squares” not “boxes” because boxes feels confined and constricted
* Identifying where we are on this 3 x 3 matrix can provide some clarity as to where we’re going in life, since it serves as a GPS location
* It is possible that we are on multiple squares at the same time
* It’s a game that never ends. While that can seem daunting, in a way it’s inspiring, because your potential to inspire and continue attempting to make your life, the life of those around you, and the lives of people around the world better, never ends either.
* You have no opponent or competition (other than yourself and your limiting beliefs)
* You “never have to stop playing your own version.” This is awesome because you can start feeling comfortable that you playing your own game, for a greater good is good enough. I love that! What’s inspiring to know is that:
"Your unique bigger game lies at the intersection of what your heart desires and what the world needs.”
“All that’s required to begin play[ing] is an earnest desire to have a more meaningful and successful life and conscious awareness of where you are right now, where you want to be, and where you need to go to get there.”
* It’s exciting since, “you must decide to set something in motion even without knowing what it is. It’s like stepping into a mystery… It’s like starting a pregnancy: you know something is coming that will change your life; you just don’t know exactly what form it will take.” Not knowing everything will allow you to be in the “now” and to give yourself permission to be creative as you go.
* I love how the author took the advice of what to do with his life, which was “Rick, your job is to breathe life into people and their plans” especially since Rick Tamlyn’s father got to the end of his life without feeling a great sense of satisfaction on how he had spent his time on Earth. This has gained more momentum after the events that have happened since 2001 and has inspired Mr. Tamlyn to help more and more people.
* Mr. Tamlyn has great advice jewels embedded throughout the book, one of them being:
"Keep in mind that goals are overrated. It’s fine to have them. I recommend them. But we have become so goal oriented in our work and personal lives that we aren’t open to the magic and spontaneous opportunities that pop up. Go with your goals- love them and embrace them- but put more focus on the game you are playing, and watch yourself reach your goals magically.”
* When it comes to engaging in the game, a positive result is that we think and develop as leaders.
* Better yet, when we are playing our bigger game we’ll find that our focus “grows wider, encompassing not just yourself and others, but a much bigger, longer, and wider picture.” “Bigger Games often serve a greater good, because the player experiences an expansion of perspective and a compelling desire to have a lasting impact.” If we all were playing a bigger game, we could literally change the dynamics of the world and the legacy of generations to come.
* Aside from our cause growing bigger, we grow bigger given that an “important feature of your bigger games is that they require you to grow. In fact, if you already know how to do it, it’s not a Bigger Game.” And the best part is that that author says that, “You’ll be so compelled that you will find a way- and amazingly, you’ll have no sense of struggling or frustration, only that liberating feeling that comes with expressing the full power of all of your gifts.” Even if we do experience struggles and frustrations, the beauty of it will be that they’ll be OUR struggles that we chose to take on and not struggles that were imposed by someone else looking out for their own benefit or their own bigger game.
* And as Bigger Gamers, we don’t have to play and reach our desires alone, since “In that state of being [mentioned above], you’ll experience another phenomenon. You’ll attract allies and supporters into your life like never before. Their complementary skills, talents and knowledge will meld with yours. A team will form, sometimes without conscious effort, and you’ll accomplish more than you ever could have done alone."
The Cons About the Book and the Game:
* Perhaps it’s the portion of the title, “9 Minutes to Learn, a Lifetime to Live,” that affects me, but I think that the book could be much shorter than it is, if it really does only take 9 minutes to learn. Of course, using examples typically makes making a point clearer, but in the case of this book, some examples go on and on for several pages and are not powerful (others really are inspiring). What’s worse, is that many of these examples are repeated in different chapters. And as you know it’s not pleasant to hear something that you really don’t find interesting numerous times.
* I always like to highlight the books that I read, but I found that I didn’t highlight anything in this book for at least the first 10th of the book, and what I was highlighting was just an interesting fact about an example-nothing life changing for me. This was a red flag. In my opinion, the author should captivate the audience right away. It was a good thing that I was interested in reading the book and finding what exactly this 3 x 3 game matrix looked like, otherwise, I would have put it down way at the beginning.
* I think that this book needs additional editing given that there are facts and examples that are repeated in various chapters and instead of making the point at hand clearer, it just makes the content drag a bit.
* Personally, I wish that the order in which the squares were presented and the order where they fall on the game board was the same. The fact that the order of the squares is random and the order in which the squares are presented is random, makes it seem like the order of what is one each square was an after-thought. And if that’s not the case, and the author just prefers to present the squares in a specific order because they make more sense to him, it would be ideal if the squares were changed to the order/location in which he presents him so that everybody can instantaneously gain as much sense as he does.
* The game would be more useful if there was actually some hint, no matter how small, regarding where to move forward to if you were standing in a specific square already embedded in the game. This would serve as a layout, for people who felt very very stuck. Something like when you’re ___ and ____ is happening do this. Of course, there would be many possible outcomes, but at least people could start turning their wheels better.
* Although the definitions of the Bigger Game are good, I wish there weren’t as many definitions.
* These are some of the definitions:
* “The Bigger Game sets you free to live in state of full engagement and creative play.”
* “Your bigger game can spring from anything you are involved in, whether it’s working on a college degree, building a corporate career, starting a business, nurturing a family, or fighting for a cause. Some bigger games you may choose; some may choose you.”
* “Our bigger games arise from who we are, and they determine who we become and what legacy we will leave. We create your bigger game by investing in it with the full force of who we are. In the process, we become thoroughly engaged and driven, not by goals or expectations but by our own compelling purpose.”
* and there are dozens more… which makes me wonder, what is THE definition of the Bigger Game… because over-explaining what the game is, dilutes its impact, in my opinion.
* While it’s great that this book has helped thousands of people, with today’s desire for crisper, more actionable advice, it would have helped a great deal if the author focused on the actual content of the game, instead of the many repeated examples, given that I feel that people who choose to read and are drawn to this book don’t need that much convincing. They’re typically the people who would say, “GAME ON!”
* The experience that this book reminds me of is being on the verge of playing a real board game with family. You want to enjoy yourself in the little time that you have. And yes, you want to learn what the game is about, but you want to learn how to play as quickly as possible so that you can get onto the business of actually playing it. Feeling this way comes from a place of being excited. However, if you focus on the extraneous information too much, getting through this book can feel more of a chore than a joy…. and that’s a shame because we should feel “pumped up’ to live a meaningful life for the benefit of helping others, and I found having to pump myself up several times to at least be as excited as I was before starting this book. After a while… with so many examples, it starts to feel more of a maze than a matrix. Thankfully, there were many powerful quotations in the book that kept me going.
In Sum, Do You Need this Book to Play a Bigger Game?
In sum, “the Bigger Game is simply a tool for tapping into your inherent abilities by opening your eyes, focusing your mind, and unleashing your talents- and the board is where you go to free yourself from whatever limitations may have been imposed on you, either by yourself or by others.”
So playing it is really up to you. If you need to let go of limitations, if you need reassurance that you’re not stuck, if you need inspiration for how playing it can be have an impact on the causes that you care about then by all means: Play it. My only advice, leave the content that doesn’t benefit you on the table and grab and make a difference with what does.
One of the beautiful dangers of playing this game is that “There’s one thing you can be sure of when you allow yourself to turn up the hunger dial: the status quo will no longer work for you.” And that is good, because as we know the status quo is often not good enough.
One of the best quotation that makes playing this game and reading this book worth it in and of itself, is
“If you settle into a life or career without weighing the benefits and the detriments, then you run the risk of going on cruise control- or out of control altogether.”
So just the potential to stop and check your GPS location to identify a really valuable destination makes this book worth it.
The ultimate beauty is that there is no score to keep when playing this game, and by playing a bigger game one can acquire greater purpose for fully living life engaged.
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