Leadership Legacy Series: Playing a Bigger Game at Work

Posted by Conni Todd on Sat, Nov 23, 2013

Part 1 - Comfort Zone

cc leadership legacy 02A few weeks ago, Clearwater had the pleasure of facilitating the Bigger Game for a group of senior leaders at an ITSMF symposium in Miami. The success of the program was outstanding due to the high level of engagement from the participants. It was amazing to see their desire to "play" the Bigger Game, especially considering that the process can feel ambiguous until you understand the free-flowing approach is intential and beneficial to your success. Playing the Bigger Game resulted in the participants feeling many emotions including confidence, excitement, vitality, appreciation and pride. The ITSMF organization itself knows a little bit about playing a Bigger Game due to the passion of their mission--to help African American IT executives grow and develop while making a career impact in the technology world. 

So, what is a Bigger Game? It is a model and methodology that creates intentional positive change for individuals (or teams). It is the answer to the question, "Isn't there more?" and an opportunity to figure out where your passion lies and how to live in it. It's the intersection where our hunger for more meets the needs of others--team, community, organization or even our world. Playing the Bigger Game will help you develop your leadership legacy at work and at home. Everyone can play! It's not about winning or the outcome, it is about the desire to play and the realization that we are always on the game board.

The Bigger Game model:

  • Provides a creative framework
  • Evolved from observing successful people
  • Encourages collaboration
  • Cultivates perspective and skills
  • Identifies where you are and where you want to be

The Bigger Game is a process, not a skill. It helps you identify what matters most to you and aligns your actions with your passion. The game board consists of 9 squares which are not linear. As a result, there is no specific order to where or when you land on a square. In fact, you will most likely land on a square multiple times as each square represents where you are in the process today.

As part of our Leadership Legacy: Playing a Bigger Game blog series, I'll provide a detailed overview of each of the 9 squares on the Bigger Game board. Once the series is complete, you'll be able to play the Bigger Game and determine where you are in your leadership development. The squares on the board are: Comfort Zones, Hunger, Compelling Purpose, Assess, Bold Action, Gulp, Sustainability, Allies, and Investment. Let's begin with Comfort Zones.

Comfort Zones

We tend to migrate towards things and situations that make us feel comfortable. It is normal behavior to routinely return to behaviors and habits that provide comfort. However, over time, this can begin to make us feel complacent, maybe even bored. Comfort Zones aren't "good" or "bad" they just are. They can either serve you in your Bigger Game or they can cost you.

3 years ago I replaced a Comfort Zone that cost me with one that serves me well and here is a brief synopsis. In my desire to be efficient and rely on multi-tasking, I found myself, more often than not, “wrapping up a business call” with my children in the car, or walking into the house at the end of my workday still on the phone.  One day it occurred to me that although I was doing my best to simultaneously execute everything, including moving the business forward, I was missing important opportunities to connect - I wasn’t available for a conversation with those that matter to me most, my family.  I remember one particular day holding up 2 fingers to my then 5 year old signaling for her to be totally quiet while mommy was on the phone.  After all I was on an important business call, right?  Well, in that moment it hit me that I was telling her that her need to connect with me could wait, and I was sending this message over and over again.  So, at that moment, I pledged to be off the phone and totally available to my family while in the car with them.  I no longer walk into the house on the phone, giving my children (and myself) the thrill of the exited greeting that awaits me every time I am free to receive such a gift.  Recognizing when a comfort zone serves you and when it does not requires self awareness and is a choice. For me, the choice is clear, being present to my family matters and interestingly enough, I haven’t lost any business as a result of the change.  

What are Your Comfort Zones?

Think for a moment about the Comfort Zones you have that serve to help you in some way. Now consider which Comfort Zones cost you time and energy. See the chart for some examples.

cc bigger game chart 001

Consider eliminating the Comfort Zones that negatively affect you and cost you in some way. Think about how these costly Comfort Zones prevent you from developing more positive actions and fulfilling your leadership legacy.  

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Topics: action planning, bigger game, leadership legacy

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