The Long Game – On Playing

Playing the long game is one of the key ways to build an incredible life.

The issue is, due to society pressure, it can be difficult to play the long game. In this world of instant gratification and jumping onto the latest trends, there is not much incentive to take a crack at playing the long game. Why?

  • The road is bumpy and full of ups and downs.
  • There will be a lot of trial and error along the way. There will be failures.
  • You need patience.

What happens if you push through? You’ll get that recognition. Your work will be followed. You’ll receive praise and criticism, but people will know who you are. Unfortunately, many will think that you were lucky, that you were at the right place at the right time. While dumb luck can play a factor, it’s a tiny factor.

What matters in playing the long game is putting in time to your craft long before you get recognition for it.

The Beatles didn’t just pop out of nowhere, but instead spent time in Germany play gigs after gigs. Louis CK didn’t just become a great comedian overnight, but took a number of years of performing to disinterested audiences around America. Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn’t born and became Mr. Universe, but he did spend untold hours sculpting himself into it. These are just a few examples of individuals who put their time into their craft to get to  the point where they would receive recognition from others.

Playing the long game calls for experimentation and being true to yourself.

As I tend to mostly be drawn to musicians, here’s a list of musicians that have been around for many years.

  • David Bowie
  • Neil Young
  • Nick Cave
  • Kate Bush
  • Bjork
  • Bob Dylan
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Leonard Cohen

These artists were willing to take major risks and experiment. They were willing to alienate their audiences (or engage them further) by trying different things. Sometimes this lead to great works being created, sometimes not. Some works nearly drove them to the point of complete alienation, but overtime, their fans were able to appreciate them for taking risks. They were willing to play the long game instead of doing the same thing over and over again. As a result, these musicians have managed to maintain devoted fan followings over numerous generations due to taking the chance and playing the long game.

How many bands have been remembered for a time, then promptly forgotten as a result of them not playing the long game and instead sticking to the same thing over and over?

Be willing to play the long game. It’s a tough game, but it’s far more rewarding.