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What Game are you Playing Book Summary – Robin Moriarty

What you will learn from reading What Game are you Playing:

– How to identify when your living a life based on others expectations.

– How to re-define what matters to you and create your own game.

– The psychology behind change and why people find it so hard.

What Game are you Playing Book Summary

What Game are you Playing Book Summary is a book that encourages us to explore the conditioning we all face throughout our lives. It will help you re-define success on your own terms and show you that people often project their own games onto you.


So, What game are YOU playing?

It’s important to play your own game—not the game that other people are playing or the game that they want you to play, but the game that you want to play. 

We passively absorb messages about how life should be and curate our lives so that we meet others’ expectations both at work and at home.  We all try to live what we have been taught to think of as a successful life. 

But, ask yourself this: 

Why would I want it all? Why wouldn’t I just want what I want and not what everyone else says I should want?


We have been conditioned:

We are conditioned about what is right and wrong by our parents, teachers, communities, and societies and that this conditioning implicitly includes pursuing a certain definition of success.

Not only this but, our brains are wired to do things that others expect of us and that our brains get uncomfortable and have little freak-outs when others aren’t happy with us.

You will discover that you will be healthier and happier using other measures of success rather than the ones that you have been raised to pursue. 


Change is Difficult:

Making changes is so difficult because not only will your brain freak out by doing something different to what you’ve been taught, but other people’s brains will also freak out when they see you doing something that they didn’t expect you to do. 

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”


Define your success:

When you’re focused on your own definition of success and not wasting energy on things that are important to other people, you can manage the challenges that arise. You no longer carry around the burden of others’ expectations. 

When you are clear about your goal and you move with consistency toward it, you will reach it. Not magically or mystically, but because of your hard work. 


Games other people play:

Power and Money:

The object of the game is to get the biggest title and the most money and that you do that by choosing your team, getting more resources, delivering results, tooting your horn, advocating for what you want, and playing your cards right. 


Some people play the game by trying to become indispensable at work. In an effort to create job security for themselves, they hoard information, hire mediocre team members, and work to convince the organization that they are irreplaceable. 

With a full slate defined, people set off on a path of pursuing the definition of success they’ve been taught to want.

Zero Sum Games:

The game of “Making the Most Money in the Company” is a game that only one person can win, so statistically that’s a game that’s pretty tough.


Playing you own game:

People playing their own game have a level of calm, a level of clarity, and a level of contentment that’s lacking in those who are getting played as pawns in someone else’s game. 

When you play your own game, you write the rules, you decide what winning looks like, you control the choices, you make the moves, and you can design the game to be what you want it to be. 


Conditioning or education?:

School teaches you how to play the game you are expected to play without really exploring whether or not it’s the game you want to play. 

Alejandro reminds us, “You weren’t educated. You were trained.” That’s conditioning. We work hard, striving to achieve those indicators of success because we are playing the game that we have been conditioned to play. 

Tip – Look at titles on magazines, they hint and provide reinforcements of how the worlds supposed to be. 


People project their games onto you:

And it’s exhausting. People make assumptions about the game you’re playing based on their own conditioning and their own versions of success.

And despite your preferences and the choices you make, people will try to put you back into the traditional definition of success—into their mold—because that feels more comfortable for them. 

When you change, you’ll see how many people operate under common assumptions without even realising it, and you’ll see how confused they get when you don’t operate that same way. 

In this process, you may have to let go of some friends whose support may take the form of trying to mold you to follow their conditioned paths.

Every person carries within him- or herself patterns of thinking, feeling, and potential acting that were learned throughout the person’s lifetime.


Travelling and staying abroad:

Perhaps this is what some people like so much about living abroad. Because you’re not subjected to these expectations, you can make your own rules. 

And perhaps this is why, upon return to your home country, the reverse culture shock can be so daunting. 

When you deal with the changes and adjustments of reentry, you are being subjected again to the pressures of others’ expectations that you’ll play their game instead of your own. 


The Brains Wiring:

Your brain is on the lookout for threats to your survival, and this means you are constantly evaluating interactions and trying to determine if a threat, either physical or social, is present. 

You’ve also had punishments when you exhibited behaviors and engaged in activities that others did not want you to engage in. That made your brain unhappy. 

Judgment, guilt, and shame were the tools in the arsenal of social ostracism that are used to ensure people did the expected, like wearing “appropriate” clothes, dating “appropriate” people, living in the “right” neighborhood, and driving the “right” kind of car. 

In the process of all of this, your brain was keeping score and wiring itself to remember which activities and behaviors were associated with positive feelings and which were associated with negative ones. 


When we notice / pay attention:

We notice when things don’t go according to our conditioned expectations because the unexpected creates a shock, however small or large, to our system and our brains perk up and try to figure out if it’s a threat or if it’s something that we don’t have to worry about. 

Whenever there are differing expectations, there are opportunities for clashes that trigger freak-outs in our brains, and opportunities for getting out of our amygdala brains where the freak-outs are occurring and into our reason and logic brains so we can move forward. 


How to design your game:

Your game’s objective, which refers to what you’re pursuing. 

How you play your game, and what kinds of moves you make 

What obstacles must be overcome, including both internal and external challenges;  

How to keep score so you know that you’re winning. 


Daily choices effect your game:

The choices you’re making every day are choices about how to play your game. They may or may not be connected to your big objective, however; and this framework will help make disconnects visible to you. 


Questions to reflect on for your game:

Reflect for a few moments on whom you’re trying to please and how you’re trying to do so. Write it down. 

Ask yourself if what you are pursuing in order to please those people is based on what they’ve told you or based on what you’ve assumed about what they want from you?

Start thinking about how you measure your own success:

How are you currently keeping score? What are the tangible and intangible things in your life that you keep track of to determine whether or not you are successful?How do you measure success? Be honest with yourself. How you measure success is up to you. No one really knows your answers except for you. 

Think about your objective and obstacles:

How well is your objective aligned to how you are playing your game? Are you aware of the obstacles and working to overcome them? Are you keeping score on the stuff that matters most to you? 

What obstacles must be overcome? What are the blockers that are keeping you from playing your game? Usually these are things like fear, the need for new skills, people who are trying to hold you back, or the need for supporters.


When people offer advice:

Sometimes people want for you what they’ve found to be good for them. 

In these cases, recognize that people in your life are trying to encourage you and give you advice on things that have and haven’t worked for them out of a desire to help you and make your life easier.


Remember – challenges, obstacles and growing is part of the journey:

Many of us focus on talents that we lack instead of recognizing the ones we already have. Make sure you think through both what you already have and what you need. What do you already have? What new skills do you need to develop, and how can you do this? 

Challenges are what create opportunities for you to use your wit and skills to find a way to win regardless of the obstacles. 

“If I’ve learned anything from video games, it is that when you meet enemies, it means that you are going in the right direction.”