We started incorporating game night in our weekly routine. Basically it goes a little like this: Either I, or my wife, end up in a winning position (we played Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Hungry, Hungry Hippos this past weekend) and then something would happen where one (or both) of our daughters would find a way to put themselves ahead, or just as regularly, push us back.
The phrase “Cheaters never prosper” clearly has not yet met my daughters.
Why do we cheat? Why is it something that all young children (and even many adults) lean towards? What does this say about the way we lead and learn in our current society?
For me, without doing much (insert “any”) research h on the topic, I tend to believe that it is because we have put a premium on “winning” and anything other than first place, feels less “good” to us at the outset. “Winning” puts us up on a pedestal, and sets us apart.
Of course, winning is fleeting, and rarely do most people remember a win. Rather, they remember a process and the people over the end result. So, what can we do to take the focus off of “winning” and therefore “cheating?” How can I get to the point where I can stop saying to my kids, “You’re such a cheater!” half-jokingly?
One of the best ways, within the game context, is to take more time to focus on the actual playing of the game. Providing feedback on how my two daughters are playing, rather than who is in the “lead” may help them focus on their play, rather than where they end up at the end. Same thing with the actual experience of game night. While it may be a bit abstract for them at the time, the fact that we are all together, playing games with one another, is the real “win.”
In our professional lives, we can make the connection to welcoming the process as well. If we take time to actually enjoy the steps of change, and set small, and achievable goals that we celebrate throughout the process (rather than just at the end), we can help those we serve become more focused on the “how” of what’s happening, rather than just the end result.
The interesting thing is that a focus on winning prevents us from valuing when we don’t come in first place. While I want my daughters (and those I work with) to value a first-place finish, I also want them to value all the work that goes into placing, or not.