laura-aziz-78171 resizedPlaying Games you Can’t Lose creates momentum and supports motivation.  The opposite is playing Games you Can’t Win.  Surprisingly, far too often, intelligent people spend time playing games they can’t win – daily.

Examples of Games you Can’t Win:

  • A game with an unidentified or vague end goal (“be better”)
  • Maintaining a never-ending To Do List
  • Seeking universal or organization-wide personal approval
  • Wishing and not starting
  • Over-committing to please
  • Creating perfect plans


Creating Games you Can’t Lose (or have a high probability of winning) spurs action and boosts confidence.  Some suggestions:

“Just do one.” – Try this when facing down a set of burpees or a stack of expense reports. A useful alternative is “just do 10 minutes (of the task).”

“Do Top Three Today” – Try this when your To Do List seems out of control and you feel no sense of traction, satisfaction or completion.

“I will do my best to ______.”  Use this to measure your perceived effort against a goal/behavior, like “listen actively” or “moderate excessive need to win.”

“Team Win in 30 days”. This strategy is to plan a win for a large project/initiative that will not see full results for a long time and will require concerted effort over the long haul.  It is simply setting a “win” that can be realized in 30 days.  For example, a team rolling out a new process initiative to improve quality might design a 30 day win to have the initiative communicated across the organization and “champions” enlisted.

And my favorite…“Seek to create connections with people in fun, enthusiastic and delightful ways.”**  There are no losers in that game.

Are there any “no win” games you are playing?  Are there new games you can create (change the rules) to better support change in you or your team?


**listen to Tim Ferris podcast episode #219 (long but worth it)