Playing the Game

“It’s one thing study war and another to live the warrior’s life.” Telamon of Arcadia, quoted in The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

This post isn’t about war, per se. But it is about the battle that lies within me, and within all of us.

It’s a war to create, to move forward, to supply, to write, to decide, to put it on paper and act.

Personally, it’s always been easy for me to study how to become a writer, to study how to become a stronger person of faith and character, to study how to become a better leader. In fact, I dedicated my 20s to learning and studying as much as I was able.

Now, I’ve found it’s been much more difficult to turn the corner in my 30s and actually live what I’ve studied. It’s not that I haven’t acted on writing, grown in my faith and character and leadership. I have. I’ve put things in motion and acted on what I’ve studied.

But I’m not living the “warrior’s life.” I find myself losing to the Resistance (a term used by Pressfield in The War of Art). I give in, I accept, and I lose frequently to the Resistance. It’s the voice inside of me that says, It’s not worth it. You can’t do it. Keep studying. You’re not good enough yet. There are better things to do. What if you make the wrong decision? You’re an amateur. 

And on and on the Resistance screams. It keeps me from living the warrior’s life.

I know I will continue to battle the Resistance the rest of my life, but I want to study less and live more. It’s time to start winning this battle and playing – not just studying – the game.

If you find yourself stuck, if you find yourself with a decision, an act, a dream stuck inside of you, the best thing you can do is to get in the game and move forward. Make that decision. Put the dream in motion. Stop studying and start playing. Today. Right now.

Book Review: Give and Take

giveandtake-coverAs part of my journey to read less for more (read that post here), I chose 5 books for the month of January to dive into. Final report? I read 3 of the 5 and read an unplanned 4th.

I finished Give and Take first in 2014, and thoroughly enjoyed this book by organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant. Written in a style similar that Malcolm Gladwell, Grant combines research along with narrative examples to display the power of giving. The thesis is found on page 4:

“According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. The story of…highlights a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interaction with other people. Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: Do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?”

For the rest of the work, Grant shows time and time again the value of being a giver in work, life, and leadership. So often, we assume that to succeed we must be primarily concerned about “numero uno” — but Grant shows us the research as well as the anecdotes from real life tell us the opposite is true.


Givers put the success of the group ahead of their individual success.
Givers aren’t assessing a cost-analysis every time they choose to give or take from someone. They just give. Period.
Givers are contagious. Giving spreads.
Giving is a “genius-making” quality.
Givers see the potential in everyone and everything.
Givers are more receptive to learning and receiving feedback.
Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a more and more common trait followers want to see in their leaders.
Givers allow space for others to speak and be heard.

Tweet: Givers are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a trait followers want to see in their leaders. are vulnerable, and vulnerability is becoming a trait leaders want to see in their leaders.

The key takeaway:
Right around the time I turned 30 years old, I also changed jobs. I took a few months to reflect on this change, and one of the primary shifts that occurs with turning 30 (and becoming a husband, father, and leader) is that life is less about taking (what can I receive? where can I grow? how can I succeed?) than giving (how can I give? how can I help others grow? how can I help others succeed?). Admittedly, this shift is not easy. It requires setting aside an ugly ego and deep-seated pride. But it’s necessary.

While I’m still a work in progress, my 30s are devoted to becoming more and more of a giver and less of a taker. When I’m done with ministry, life, and leadership, I want others to see me as a giver, not as a taker. It will take some work, but it’s the key to success.

What is one thing you can do to GIVE to someone today?