Game, Player, Place.
Understanding the game in which you are as player and your place in that game.
In a lecture I heard the philosopher and author of “Climate — A New Story” Charles Eisenstein say that we are in a transition — a transition in which the idea that we can control nature is no longer available. We can no longer consider ourselves separated from the rest of nature, thinking that we are the crowning glory of God’s creative work. We are part of the great story of nature. This gives us a serving role as an active participant. That is why we can and must look at our environment with love because every time something dies at our hands something will die in ourselves.
On his website he writes: “Our perceptions shape our stories, our solutions, and our world. When our narratives and assumptions are unquestioned, we end up weaving threads or the problem into the changes we want to make. To exit the well-worn ruts or the usual solution templates, we must question the assumptions we’ve been using to drive our thinking and actions. We need to “clear the field” on a personal level and a social-political level. We need to “unlearn” the things we assume we know. In my words:“ We will have to let go of our current perception of leadership that, for centuries, has led us to believe that we have to be more dominant to be strong. That we have to have a plan for others, even though we actually have no idea what all is needed. That we have to organize, control and manage because otherwise nobody will do it. That the world needs us otherwise it will be ruined. Well, look around you today, I am afraid this deficit in leadership thinking and behavior has contributed to our world situation today. I don’t think anyone can argue that today we find ourselves standing on the brink looking out over an abyss.”
“We need to clear the field,” we will have to create a different perspective to continue with a new purpose. The transitional ritual that Arnold van Gennep (1873–1957) outlined seems relevant today. In order to step into a new and different world, our old status must end. The traveler, the human being, requires a different identity, with a new role.
To support us in this worldwide transition, I want to share an idea I learned from a former teacher of mine, Diederik van Rossum, from the Institute for Psychosynthesis. It is a clear thought that is easily told, but which hides sharp thinking. I encourage you to take the time to really consider what he was saying. It is a simple triangle with the labels Game, Player, Place. You can use this triangle again and again to discover your — changing — role. First the term “Game”. You can translate that as the situation you are in. But also the organization in which you work, or your whole life. You can even see the term “Game” as the story of this world, the encirclement of many centuries in which we form a unity with all the organisms that exist.
Within each “Game” you are also a “Player”. You are in that game, in that story. You participate in the story. You act, you speak, so you are there. Who are you as a “Player” is the question that each of us is asked to consider. “Who are you?” It is the question that will continue to be asked throughout our lives in whatever “Game” we seek to join. To answer that question correctly, the third point of the triangle is crucial: the “Place”. What place do we play in the story? A simple example: if I do not take the place of a father in the story of my parenthood, my child will grow up without a father present, even though I am there. So I have not taken my place. I was there, apparently, but did not take that place so that my child could see me as his / her father.
Game, Player, Place.
Charles Eisenstein tells us we are in a remarkable transition as humanity. In order to move forward it’s important to know the role of ‘Player’ in a ‘Game’ that we have seemingly, up until now. had limited knowledge of. We took a ‘Place’ in that does not belong to us. As a result, we continue to struggle with the question of who we actually are and compensate the emptiness, having no meaningful answer, with consumption. More, and even more. But more goods, power, and money, only clouds a clear view of our “Place” in the “Game” in order to be able to live and work as a “Player” in accord with our own purpose.
Understanding this system, this triangle, also means that we can effectively investigate how we deal with all threats around us. As Charles Eisenstein said in his recent lecture, we should act from love not fear. We are part of a whole, a planet, where together with all other forms of life we can serve each other. It’s fear that now dominates our thinking and therefore polarization automatically becomes the vehicle of our actions. If we know our “Place” in the “Game” and therefore we know of our role as “Player”, we can also look at our actions in relation to the others around us from a different perspective, a different paradigm. We can choose to live our own lives out of love and therefore choose not to respond to any apparent threat from people who disagree with us.
It is clear that leaders in companies and organizations must stand up to lead the transition. People in positions that exert their influence, who stand in a place where they become visible in words and actions. Leaders who do not hide behind untested assumptions and worn out cultures, but understand that it is they who must now shape change. They are brave leaders. These are women and men who realize that it is not until the end of their life that the “why” question and the “if only I” situation will be the most important remorse, but who will take up the challenge here and now.
Ron van Es — School for Purpose Leadership
The above is a short section from the book “It’s time, the ethics of purpose-driven organizations.”