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While preparing to launch the Daily Dose of Dynamite (which is, as you might guess, a daily blast of thought-provoking, pattern-challenging, firepower for living an unlimited life, served up one teaspoonful at a time,) I came across one of my note cards that said this:  “Do you have the courage to play the game not to best anyone, but to bring out the best in everyone?”

I don’t remember the circumstances under which I wrote it, but finding it could not have come at a better time. For several reasons.

First, a selfish one. I’ve been challenged lately with people who only show me the worst of me and claim that is the all of me.

You know how that happens right? Someone pushes and pokes at your buttons until finally you react instead of respond, then BOOM, it’s “I knew you weren’t all that, look how bad you are!”  As if it weren’t punishment enough to know that you broke under pressure, they’re gloating because they goaded you into breaking.

And then there’s a certain someone who insists on painting me the way she needs to believe I am; an emotionally fragile, sensitive soul who can’t really be expected to keep an “even keel” in a crisis or get out of bed if there has been a tragedy.

So admittedly, my first thought on finding that old note card was, “These people really are weak to need to bring out my worst so that they can feel more powerful.”

I’m not proud that that was my first thought, but I am glad it led me to the next one. Which was;

“Do I have the courage not to let it matter? Am I brave enough to look for the best in everyone, including these individuals, regardless of how their worst is impacting me right now?”

Since having that thought there have been moments when the answer was “yes,” and moments when it was a resounding “NO!” Because the courage meter isn’t constant, it takes work to keep the needle to the right.

But here is what I’ve discovered about courage.

It’s easier to get yourself worked up about beating the competition than it is to get yourself calmed down enough to have compassion for someone who has set themselves against you.

It’s easier to believe in a win when you see the other person losing than it is to feel the joy of winning when the other person is still saying “I told you so.”

It’s easier to defend yourself than it is to embrace the one who is putting you down or beating you up.

We’re taught, in sports and in life, that it takes courage to play to win.

But, as James Carse points out in Finite and Infinite Games (a bit of a tedious read, but transformational!) when you’re playing to win, you’re playing a finite game – someone has to lose and then the game is over. But when you’re playing just to keep the game going, to keep the ball in the air, to keep the fun alive – well that is a game with no winners and no losers, only players.

Yes, I think it takes more courage to play for no other reason than because we love the game.

What do you think?

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