Personal Value Depends on The Game You're In

The Infamous Chart

This chart above 👆 is what I see whenever logging into my bank account. The first thing you’ll probably notice is that the line has gone down since 2021, which is when I quit my FT job to build my own app. That’s a story for another post, so for now just focus on the title of the chart: “Personal Value.” Does that seem like an odd way to describe an account balance?

What It Means

How well that title fits depends on what game I’m currently playing. If I’m in a comparison-based game, where my value is decided by measuring current performance or wealth against those in my past, then it’s a perfect title. When I’m in that mindset, the chart’s downward trend sets me off into a desperate spiral. My mind races — “I’m failing, I need to fix something, and fast!!”

But if I’m playing a game where my personal value is inherent and static, then putting it on a trend line seems ridiculous. I’m completely unaffected, almost amused when seeing the chart then. “Ha, how silly of those bankers to think that’s how life works.”

Pieces -> Rules -> Game

Of course, it’s not always obvious which game we’re in. But working backward by identifying the implicit rules that govern a mindset can help. Games of Seeking (status, wealth, power, validation) have rules like:

  • Your previous wins aren’t enough; you need to keep winning to stay a winner
  • Being publicly wrong is humiliating
  • Your friend’s success makes you weaker; their failure makes you stronger
  • You’re more valuable after receiving praise, less valuable after criticism
  • You’re only wealthy if people know you’re wealthy
  • It’s OK to withhold things (money, attention, respect) from people as punishment
  • You either win or lose an argument
  • You should automatically support politician X, cuz loyalty
  • Your personal value fluctuates with your account balance

Those Games of Seeking rules require winners & losers, change, conquest, lies, past & future, and seriousness.

Rules of Being Games, on the other hand, require surrender, acceptance, presence, truth, and play. They typically look like:

  • The activity is the reward
  • Everything you need is here now
  • You don’t need to change the world to be happy
  • Whatever happens, you’ll be OK
  • You might as well do what’s fun

Summing Up

We’re all playing games and reacting to them throughout the day. The quality of our minds and thus our lives depend on which we engage in — those of Seeking or those of Being. Whenever we have a strong reaction to an implicit rule, our unconscious has revealed a clue as to which of those we’re in. Once that clue is followed and the truth enters into awareness, we’re presented with a beautiful opportunity: “Continue playing?”


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