Here’s an idea – your frog (something in your business you don’t enjoy doing) is like a board game or card game whose rules and fun you haven’t quite gotten the hang of yet.
(Note: For a lot of people the work they do is necessary for their survival and not fun or rewarding. Our world is currently structured this way. In this post I’m talking about those of us who have the immense privilege to choose the work that we do – and that’s not a choice afforded to many.)
The first time you play a game, you go into it with the mindset that it should be fun. But the first time isn’t usually that fun. You might feel frustrated that you don’t fully understand the rules. You might feel overwhelmed or a bit cheated. But if it’s a good game, you’ll be compelled to try again. You see that the other players are having fun, and you want in too.
In business especially, we often think we shouldn’t be having fun. That if we’re enjoying ourselves, we are not doing it right.
That’s the rule right? If you are in the headspace of play, you are expecting and trying to have fun, even if you don’t have that immediately. But when you’re in the headspace of work, it’s about getting shit done and achieving goals.
That means when we come across something that we don’t fully understand, or whose rules are clear to us, we don’t feel compelled to try and find the fun in it. Instead we might feel resentful towards the task and not eager to find out all of the rules or how to do it properly. We might decide that we can’t finish it or that we can’t reach a particular goal.
Why can’t workspace also be play space?
We usually think of ‘playing’ as being an unstructured mess, but like business, games have rules that help set boundaries, expectations, processes, and flow.
Games have rules. All games. Try to think of a game that doesn’t have any rules. I’d love to know if you can think of one.
So, what if we thought of our businesses, and in particular, our frogs, as games? Games aren’t always fun all of the time. In fact, some of the challenges in games might be downright annoying. Or make you really frustrated. But you are compelled to come back.
Why? Because you’re in a playing headspace. The challenges are more compelling, the space is one of expected and experiencing the fun of the challenge. Think about it, games that provide no challenge whatsoever are usually not fun at all.
So when we come up against resistance to working on our frogs, we are not in this play headspace. The challenge is not fun precisely because it is Work-Which-Must-Be-Done.
Games are optional, work is mandatory
Often we think of games as being a play space because no one is forcing you to be there and play. Fair enough. Work is a little bit different, because you are being financially reimbursed (at some point, ideally) for your efforts. You may need to work to put a roof over your head and food on the table. In a game of Monopoly, the stakes are usually not that high.
But they are not entirely dissimilar.
Are you going to die tomorrow if you don’t do the thing? Probably not. Will the entire world implode? Will something utterly catastrophic happen because of your failure to do x right now?
Feeling confused with your frog?
Consult the rule book! Whether that’s the instruction manual or how-to videos on YouTube. If you’re confused and aren’t sure of what’s going on in a game you ask for the rules.
Feeling frustrated and like you don’t understand?
Find a buddy who can teach you how to play better. Whether that’s a friend who knows your frog well, an official teacher, or even that smart cookie friend who can help you to hash out the rule book.