NFL Coaches, CEOs, and VCs Take a Lesson from Your Kids

We Learned How Business Works When We Were Five Years Old

Strategic Plans logo

I was re-reading “The E-Myth Revisited” last night. It reminded me of a book I read in 1989, called, “The Game of Work.” Both got me thinking about how the idea of work is so much more important than the task at hand. Those thoughts took me to jobs I had, the work I do, and the games I played as a kid.

I looked around at the world and found that everything that is hugely, remarkably successful has the same things that make it work as our back yard games did.

  • The guy who’s house it is — the place we’re playing — sets the culture. That’s how it’s always been. Everyone takes a cue from the owner, that personality has power. He might keep kids out or share his yard with everyone. He might change the rules in his favor or consistently help others win. Steve Farber, Extreme Leader describes what works remarkably on the playground and in life when he says, I’m convinced that the ultimate rule of the Extreme Leader is to make others greater than yourself.
  • Rules and roles give us freedom to act. — Nothing was worse than when everyone wanted to be king in the drama or sheriff in the old west. Forgive me, but it was chaos when kids would get “shot” and refuse to stay dead. Playing baseball was no fun when we argued about what was a fair ball and was what out or even worse, where the bases were. Learning the rules and working with them make us smarter and give us benchmarks. Seth says so.
  • Sometimes a “do over” is the right answer, sometimes it’s not. — But even the smallest kids know that doing everything over is boring and gets you no where. Guy Kawasaki has some great advice on when and when not to respond to mistakes.
  • Whining, yelling, and tuning out make you look like a baby. — Kids soon enough ignore whiners, yellers, and kids who tune out as not worth the time they take away from the game. Kathy Sierra talks about what to do if stress brings out one of these traits when you should be learning.
  • Don’t break a promise unless someone will get hurt. ,

  • You have to CARE for the game to be remarkable and successful. — Kids know that they put their hearts and their heads into whatever they do Christine Kane explains why everyone wants to do business with people who think like she does.

That’s why experts call play the “work of childhood.” It’s true.

So, let’s get playing.

–ME “Liz” Strauss
If you think Liz can help with a problem you’re having with your business, your brand or your blog, check out the Work with Liz!! page in the sidebar.

Are You a Freelancer or a Solo Entrepreneur? Use Guy Kawasaki’s Mantra as He Meant
5 +1 Whole Brain Steps to Believable Strategic Goals OR Find Your Bliss Without Wasting Time


  1. Tamara says

    This is further proof to me of just how bad my last company was.

    “The owner might change the rules in his favor” — Check. See entire upper management structure. See our 401k and our bonus structure for the last two years.

    “Everyone wanted to be the king in the drama or the sheriff in the western” — Check. See too many colleagues squabbling for promotions and new (higher) positions that didn’t exist yet and weren’t (probably) even a glimmer in management’s eye.

    “…it was chaos when kids would get “shot” and refuse to stay dead…” — Check. See co-workers who just didn’t know when to back down, or did but didn’t give a crap.

    “Playing baseball was no fun when we argued about what was a fair ball and was what out or even worse, where the bases were.” — Check. See our ENTIRE organizational culture. See departments who changed processes without communicating said changes to the other groups they worked with. See managers who changed departmental goals without communicating them. See co-workers who hoarded info on the grounds that it made them more valuable when people had to come looking for it, when they were able to ride in and save the day.

    Gees, I’m glad to be out of there.

  2. says

    Hi Tamara,
    Thanks for hearing and seeing the metaphor. That’s exactly what I was talking about. I ‘ve been in a company just like yours only the player’s names were different.

    Totally no fun, totally not about moving forward. Most of the time I felt like I was speaking in tongues.

    When you look at the door and think of an other job and the feeling you get is one of relief . . . that’s when you know you’re in the wrong place for sure.

    Thanks so much for showing how the whole thing applies to real life!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *