She Plays to Win

My six-year-old granddaughter Grace is a card shark. She can play over 15 card games and any board game and she plays to win. She is six years old and she beats me every, single, time.

We recently spent 10 days together in the North Woods of Wisconsin, or as the locals say, Up North or Up Nort. There is no Internet connection, phones are useless for anything but taking photos and a deck of cards is often our best entertainment. I only remember three card games, War, Gin Rummy and Go Fish so Grace has to patiently teach me each game. It seems each game has a different wild card, sometimes aces are high–sometimes low. 

While I am focused on understanding the rules, she goes beyond the rules and uses strategy to win. I’m fairly certain I did not understand strategy at six years old. I’m not sure I understood strategy until I was 30 years old. And I was well over 50 years old before I thought about applying strategy to my personal life. I spent most of my life trying to live by the rules. 

Simon Sinek addresses this strategic approach in his new book The Infinite Game Grace is always, instinctively, playing the Infinite Game. In the finite game, you follow the rules, set short term goals that move the ball, or perhaps win the game–but the infinite game looks at the whole season, and beyond. It is about strategy. Of course, Sinek’s concepts apply to organizations and leadership–but I believe that this strategy is about instincts as I have observed by watching sweet Grace.

Observing and learning from our grandchildren is in itself a leveling up, from management to leadership. As parents, we tend towards the management of all the details regarding the child’s care and development. It ranges from getting breakfast on the table and tucking them in at night, to laundry and cleaning and carpooling. All things which involve doing and not being–about business and not mindfulness.

Becoming a grandparent allows you to spend time in observation and time spent being with the child. Not only learning who they are but lessons you can integrate into who you are. Things you did not have time to learn before.

It is about leading your grandchild to learn, and wisely knowing how and when to insert yourself in family dynamics–which is usually never unless asked. There is still a lot to learn at this stage in life and the grandchildren are the teachers and the grandparents the leaders.


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