Friday, March 25, 2011

The Game Changer

Barbara: You know when you read something and it sticks with you and then you try to quote it back later in conversation and you can’t for the life of you remember what it was? I know we sometimes roll our eyes at people who pluck quotes out of midair and repeat them back verbatim, but I’ve always secretly coveted this trait. Oh, to reference Shakespeare or Sartre or Sontag with perfect recollection. Not for the intellectual kudos, mind you, but for the accuracy. The POINT of what they said.

I was trying to recall a quote for a friend recently and I paraphrased it so badly I may have changed the meaning entirely. And I was so frustrated with myself that I ran up to find the book, flipping maniacally through all the pages, until I found it. The irony was not lost on me that this was AFTER I’D ALREADY QUOTED IT! Still, I needed to see how close I’d gotten. (I was miles off, of course.)

That said, the quote is really so GREAT that I decided to blog it. I would love to know if this idea resonates with you as much as it did with me. I was reading Tony Hsieh’s autobiography, Delivering Happiness––he’s the CEO of––and he talks about all the stuff he learned though years of ups and downs and ups. At one point he makes an analogy between playing poker and running an effective business (aka, living life). He says (and I quote): “I’d realized that whether in poker, in business, or in life, it was easy to get caught up and engrossed in what I was currently doing, and that made it easy to forget that I always had the option to change tables. Psychologically, it’s hard because of all the inertia to overcome.” And here’s the clincher (*caps are mine*): “WITHOUT CONSCIOUS AND DELIBERATE EFFORT, INERTIA ALWAYS WINS.”

Isn’t this true??? I mean, from a very early age, I recognized this. And hated it. Why, if I had so much I wanted to do, felt compelled to do, didn’t I do it? Well, Tony put his finger on it: it’s Inertia’s fault! I’m all, I gotta get out there, conquer the world, and Inertia’s all, Nah, it’s cozy here on the couch with the TV on, fuggedaboudit.

No, kidding aside, I’m a super-hard worker. Pretty much everyone I know is a super-hard worker. There’s ALWAYS more to do than there are hours in the day. I want desperately to get my shit done, to feel a sense of accomplishment. Inertia doesn’t hold me back at all in the “doing” regard. BUT. I like understanding that if I don’t make a deliberate effort against inertia, if I don’t make myself uncomfortable from time to time (and routine, however busy, can also get “comfortable”), then I will get stuck. And that stuckness will echo through every facet of my life.

So, while I capped Tony’s inertia/winning quote, I will also try to remind myself—and any eye-rolling listeners of my fumbled attempts to accurately repeat a quote––that the key is actually in understanding the need to regularly “change tables”.

And how have I changed tables, you might ask. Well, in the last year, certainly blogging and going on Facebook has changed my game significantly.

What’s next? I’ll tell you when I do it :)

DebI can certainly quote anything verbatim from a 1960’s Mad Magazine, so there. Take that! 

You can always change tables. How do I love that? And I have the same as you, Barb, Facebook and blogging are huge committments for me. It was very hard to change that table. Writing and developing shows was another table changer but I always looked over at that table and there was never an empty seat and the players were drunk. 

This has soooooooooo resonated with me. I am going to always keep my eyes open for another table, another game. Not blackjack though. I’ve tried it. The other players yell at me.


  1. Barb, I am totally with you with the botching the quote thing. It kills me as I was always one of those people who could whip out a quote at the drop of a hat neatly reinforcing my own point. (And as an aside, I don't recall people rolling their eyes at me so now I'm now wondering if I was obliviously spouting what I thought was wisdom while many the audience groaned.) Sadly, that gift seems to have had a shelf life and these days I'm more likely to have to follow your lead and rifle through whatever text held the magical phrase I'm trying to deliver to a rapt, steady-eyed listener.
    For this reason,by way of reinforcement of your blog's message, I'm going to actually cut and paste a snippet I saw recently that I think says it best. "The greatest trick the devil ever played was making you feel productive when you're really just fucking around." *Read "f*cking around" as colorful euphemism for 'indulging inertia". To your day I leave you...I've got new tables to sample!

  2. Ooh, that's a good one, Annette! Feels suspiciously like the truth ;)

  3. I rarely ever use quotes as I know I will screw them up. I just try and say what I want to say in my own way. Works most times. Great thoughts today.

  4. That quote does resonate with me. I overstayed my welcome in a career that I stumbled into in the first place, but was never really happy with even though I climbed and enjoyed some success at it. It was only after being shoved out that I saw how much I'd missed by allowing inertia to rule. It was far easier and SAFE to stay put. Now I'm poor, but happy. And poor is relative.

  5. BRILLIANT. totally completely out of the ballpark SPOT ON BRILLIANT. and you can frickin' quote me.
    i so love you guys. you make my day.

  6. Great post. I think one reason we don't often try to change is we are afraid of failure. I find that even though I might not be completely happy, I'm afraid to make the change that could make me happier. What if I fail?

    Sometimes I do have the guts to change or I have the positive inertia to move forward with something new and I smack head first into the brick wall that is my kids. I love them, but their needs come before my own and I have to stop what I'm doing to take care of them.

    It's a wonderful quote though. I need to think of it more often to give me the courage to change or try something new.

  7. I love that this resonated as much with you guys as it did with me. Lisa, I find it fascinating that the job loss you've been recovering from was also a job that you didn't love (sometimes the table makes you change it!). And ML, I completely relate to the kids being the trump card that keeps you where you are. I am a perfect example of someone who changed in slow increments because of that. But I think it helps to see the big picture.

    Amy, we love you! And all you guys.

  8. I'm the kind of person who gets halfway through a book before I remember that I'd already read it, so quoting is beyond me. Your quote is a good one, though, and hopefully I'll at least remember the sentiment behind it!!

  9. Thanks, Barbara for the encouragement about the kids. People keep telling me there is a time and a season for all things. I guess this is my time and season for raising the kids. One day, I'll be able to move ahead in other areas of life.

  10. Ok so Yeah I so don't quote anybody or anything at all or even try to remember a quote because IF I did or do I always get it wrong.I am good at figuring our what a quote means but I would never try to remember a quote,my brain is horrible like that.

    And I got a suggestion for you Deb And Barb.It's another game you can do. I know you blog of corse and Facebook is good,now you all should Tweet. I love Twitter and Tweet every couple of hours and it's alsome. I am an avaid Tweeter and Love it so you all should tweet now.

  11. Molly, don't you worry, it'll happen ;)

    Erica and Lyndsie, you are my quoting peeps, looks like...And Lyndsie, are you suggesting Twitter is the next game changer for us??? Hmmmm...

  12. It is a good quote, and I'm glad you shared it with us. I think it's one that resonates with just about everyone, but especially with people like me who are scared to death of change, be that change large or small. It'll definitely give me something to think about the next time I find myself facing one of those scary changes.


  13. April, fear definitely keeps us from change. Someone mentioned to me on Facebook (as a comment to this post) that we're often also terrified that the people playing at the other table will somehow reject us. So many of us let that kind of fear decide our course -- even though those other players really couldn't care less what we do or don't do, am I right?!

  14. Yes Twitter should be the next thing that you all do. It's alsome. Trust me on this one. Like I said you should diffently give it at least one time. Trust me one TWEET AND you will be hooked for life. I know cause I am hooked on twitter.

  15. Changing tables IS always an option but then how do you know that if you hang in there the luck might just change at the table your on..?
    Gosh..... Gambling references always confuse me cause all I can think of is that famous philospher who said.."youve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away,and know when to run....." (or something like that????) : P

  16. Even though I am terrified of change and hold on to the same old for long periods of time. I have changed tables a few times in my life so far! The new tables have always offered new possibilities and experiences. I feel my family is on the cusp of another table change but inertia has a tight hold.


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