Provision #821: Play Your Own Game

Laser Provision

From the time we are born we play other people’s games, and there’s nothing wrong with that – up to a point. When mommy and daddy turn learning how to talk, walk, feed, write and read into games that they laugh with, clap for, and applaud as we advance toward mastery, it’s a great way to learn. But learning to play and to win at our own games is an even better way to learn. Indeed, life itself can be viewed as a series of games until death do us part. By accepting that reality we make life more fun and productive at the same time. That’s not always easy but this Provision may lighten the load.

LifeTrek Provision

I may be a bit biased but I think my grandson – Everest Gray Tschannen – is a fantastic toddler with fantastic parents. He was born on July 16th of last year, six weeks before I came down with my crazy brain inflammation. Given the nature of that inflammation and where I am at in my recovery process, I can’t remember his birth – yet – but I know one thing for sure: he could not have been born into a more attentive, proud, loving, and caring family. Everyone thinks the world of him and, although I may be more than just a bit biased, it’s hard for me to imagine that there could be a much more adorable and capable baby on the planet. J

One reason I hold that to be true is not only that I get to visit and play with him regularly, since we live only about two hours away, but also that his parents produce a month-by-month online video of his growth and development, replete with music and all manner of cute enhancements made possible by Animoto. Those videos are really quite amazing and I’m sure they will be treasured by him forever when he comes of age – after he first goes though a period of thinking that they are rather embarrassing and over-the-top. “Oh, come on, Mom!” I can just hear him saying. “How could you!”

That’s when he will settle in and start watching them with full engagement and increasing delight. I know that’s how they impact me and it would certainly bring me great pleasure, now that my mother has passed away, to be able to hear her voice and to see her again in the ways that only modern technology makes possible so easily: with the click of a mouse.

In Everest’s case, my daughter-in-law, Michelle, has used her extraordinary skills as a teacher and as a tutor of special-needs children to turn parenting into the opportunity to not only shower Everest with love and affection – we all do that – but also to come up with a seemingly endless series of fun and creative learning games to which not only my grandson but the entire family has taken a real liking. It’s adorable as well as inspiring to see the ways in which Michelle and Evan care for and encourage the growth and development of Everest through these games. They are great parents.

Everyone has a lot of fun and Everest clearly learns a lot while playing these games. Indeed, playing such games may be the only way to learn. I’m not sure anyone really learns when learning becomes a chore. Until we make learning fun, and until it becomes an integral part of our hopes and dreams in life, learning is limited in scope, depth, and breadth. I know that all the teachers I remember from high school, college, and graduate school were able to make learning enjoyable. In their own way, they turned learning into games that I wanted to pursue – and I pursued them with passion.

The really great teachers and professors, however, the ones I learned the most from and remember best with both fondness and clarity, were the ones who didn’t just get me to play their learning games but who got me excited about developing and playing my own learning games. Those were the educators who stand out in my mind and equipped me with the tools for lifelong learning, tools that continue to serve me well today. Specifically, they taught me how to set learning goals, how to stay focused, how to find resources, and how to be resilient in the face of setbacks. Those are the lessons that make life meaningful, productive, generative, constructive, and fun. And those are the lessons that I would commend to you on your own trek of life:

Set Learning Goals. The point of life is not just to accomplish things and get things done; everyone does that, at least to some extent. The point of life is to grow wiser – more understanding and more loving – along the way. And that growth doesn’t happen by accident. It happens when we recognize their importance and open ourselves to the process of learning such things. If we think we have our lives all together and all figured out, if we think we are on top of the world, then we’re not going to make learning much of a priority. Why bother! Once we recognize, however, that no one ever has things all together and all figured out – that no one is ever on top of the world, because the world is round J – then we become engaged much more actively and continuously in the process of learning itself. We set our own learning goals and begin to pursue them with passion.

Stay Focused. This is hard for my brain to do right now, since I am so easily distracted by things or situations that I find either interesting or troubling, but it is a real key to effective learning and it is something of which I seek to remind myself on a regular basis. There’s not much value in setting a learning goal if one is so easily distracted that one forgets all about the goal! To that end, then, it’s important to set up patterns and systems that reinforce focus. In my case, for example, I love the mental reviews that I do of my days when I go to sleep and when I wake up. That’s no big deal for most people, to remember what they did today or yesterday, but that is a big deal for me. And it is a kind mental gymnastics to make such reviews a regular practice. It’s discouraging, of course, when I can’t remember much and I have to ask for help. But at least I am doing the work and I know, from marathon training, that doing the work day by day generates success in the end.

Find Resources. It’s hard for me have to ask for help for such a basic thing as recovering recent memories and to not feel discouraged, but it helps to remind myself that no one ever gets through this life alone. We all need to find effective resources if we hope to play, let alone to win, the games of life. That’s true even when we are the ones who scope out and create the games. Every game requires resources and instructions. They may be supplies, people, technology, tools, or financing – to mention only five of the most obvious. When we buy games, those things come in the box! So there’s really no point in feeling bad when we utilize such resources while playing our own games. That’s been a hard but important lesson for me to learn through my recovery process. But I am making progress and I hope you will adopt that stance as well.

Be Resilient. In the end, this may be the most important lesson of all. Goals change, we all get distracted from time to time and resources get used up. The key to success is how we respond when these things happen. If we get so discouraged that we give up on the game of life altogether, then there’s no way to be successful. If we bounce back, however, with a can-do spirit, then success continues to be within reach. It’s been important for me to remember and to be reminded of that basic truth through my healing process. Resilience matters. It may be the most important trait of all when it comes to playing games. Don’t give up. Hang in there. Find another way. Until the bell tolls – and one day it will toll for each and every one of us – keep on playing the games that give life meaning, purpose, and joy. That really is the secret to success.

Coaching Inquiries: What games are you playing? Are you playing other people’s games or your own games? How can you tell? If you could play any game you want, just by waving a magic wand, what game would you play? How would that game contribute to the betterment of your own life and the lives of others?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.


I loved your “dam” fish story, Bob. It was FABULOUS! Thanks for a Sunday-morning smile.


Good for you, Bob, for taking a break from Provisions! Today is the first Sunday back in the pulpit for me in 2 weeks. My family and I had a great vacation together. Be blessed today!


Your “Taking a Break” Provision was one of the best Provisions I have ever read! Take the break and enjoy! Love you, bro!


Not sure if you saw the story on CNN about the healing properties of cannabis (marijuana). I thought you might be interested in looking into this, if you haven’t done so. Sanjay Gupta said there are other ways of using cannabis beside smoking it. Best wishes to you. I’m sure your answer is out there somewhere. (Editor’s Note: Our morning Fruit Chewy, the recipe of which is on our website and which my wife and I have enjoyed for more than a decade, contains Hemp (marijuana) Protein – so we’ve got that one covered.)


Taking a Break? Good For You!!! Enjoy and be NON-PRODUCTIVE. If only I’d listen to my own advice, I’d be even MORE blessed. Smiles.


That was a wonderful Provision on Taking a Breaking. Rest relax rejuvenate …. Sending you love and sunshine and ice cream thoughts.


Glad you took a break from Provisions, Bob! Enjoy the time off. God bless.


I know the times have been very harsh for you and you definitely need a break. Enjoy your time off with family & friends! I wish you complete relaxation from the hurly-burly of routine life! I keep taking regular offs in between. It helps. Warm regards to you and your wife who has stood like a pillar behind you!


Who knew life would turn out to be like one of those old “I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news” jokes. Of course the joke was that it was the same piece of news that we can construct in so many ways. Lately I have been having some “ouch education” of my own, BUT it always presents something new and something to learn. Sending goodness, peace, joy and health to you and your family.


Have a peaceful week off from writing a Provision. Be well. 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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