Gamesmanship in our Organizations

I’m sheepishly sharing something that I bought from a library fire sale when I was a teenager (maybe for $0.25?). The book “Three-Upmanship” by Stephen Potter from the UK. Written between 1950-1962, it tells how to win at any game you play in life: Gamesmanship, Lifemanship, or One-upmanship. At the time, I must have thought it was pretty funny (but then I was only 15, so who knows what I was thinking). I devoured the book. And secretly reveled at putting one or two over on my parents and older brother with some of its methods.

But I’m here today to tell you how damaging the book and its concepts are to teams. When I found it again the other day, I started reading it and hastily put it into one of my work drawers, hardly ever to be seen again – until today. I won’t throw it out because I need to be reminded of how damaging behaviors can take shape in our minds and create “us vs. them thinking.” Whenever did we get so callous with each other to think that life is a zero-sum game?

Read this post from Ruth Gotian, Ed.D., M.S. about Caryn Davies, OLY. This put the thinking in the right place for me. We are on this great voyage in life, together. The turning of the phrase “colleagues or teammates” seems innocuous, but there is so much more in the phrase and it, unfortunately, linked itself back into that little ill-fated Three-upmanship book of mine. I’m truly ashamed to own it, but I need its life reminder to me so that I stay true to our best course in life – together, in teams of any kind. The best way to experience our world is together. Let’s always be “enlarging the pie” to include us all, and creating magnificent teams that do ever so much more than anything zero-sum could ever bring us.