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Using Bigger Game to Jumpstart your Career

I would like to share a resource that may be helpful: Rick Tamlyn’s The Bigger Game.

I was fortunate to be able to participate in a Bigger Game Retreat with Rick Tamlyn and

several other Bigger Game trainers at beautiful Silver Lake north of Albany. The Bigger

Game is often thought of as a tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, but it can be just as effective for ‘intrapreneurs’ – leaders inside an organization who feel the need to move away from ‘business as usual’.

Change is hard.

The Bigger Game is a tool composed of nine squares set up like tic-tac-toe. Participants

move through all nine squares. During the process, we cover the essential elements of

developing, accepting, implementing and sustaining a Strategic Plan.

Here is Rick Tamlyn explaining The Bigger Game in his own words:


The Bigger Game helps individuals, teams and organizations create meaning, conviction, courage and growth to help achieve desired goals. And by “playing” a game, you invite those around you to bring a light, creative ethos to the seriousness of work.

The top row of the Bigger Game Board begins its focus on the individual. It is a tool of

introspection: “How am I responding?” It also invites the player to shift and use the model to be curious of others - “What is their response?”

Comfort Zones suggest being aware of the human tendency to resist change. Comfort

Zones can serve us or not serve us (i.e. Humor can be a great gift unless it is a merciless

weapon). What is important is being aware of Comfort Zones and the impact they are

having - on you, on others and on the organization. A key Bigger Game concept is that

people will not leave comfort zones unless there is a good enough reason to change...

imagine a person with cancer who is finally able to stop smoking because he realizes he

wants to see his children grow up.

Hunger speaks to what people really want that is bigger than the trivial activities of the

day. This is the square you occupy when you feel a powerful desire for something more - even if you have no idea what that something is.

Compelling Purpose connects the hunger a person feels with a sense of responsibility to do something about it. Compelling Purpose is personal - people may be compelled by the same thing but their reasons are personal. This square begins to point us to action. The top row of the Bigger Game Board is a place to ask questions of self and others to better understand drive, motivation and what holds us back.

At first glance, the bottom row of the Bigger Game Board suggests looking beyond the individual toward the group or corporation. And that is true. The paradox is that those squares also speak at an individual level.

Sustainability is a reminder that anything worth doing requires strategic planning and

commitment over time. It also means great effort should be balanced with great renewal. The alternative is a risk of burnout of the game and the player(s).

Allies – that we can’t do it alone is another term with double entendre. A common belief is that Allies are always on our side: believing as we do, provide networking and perhaps willing to join us in the game. In the Bigger Game, Allies can be (and should be) anyone. Consider this - if negative information is often as valuable as positive, then the Allies square invites us to a broader perspective. If we remain curious, our competition can serve as tremendous allies. They provide different perspectives, approaches and interpretations. All are valuable making competition important allies.

Investment reminds us of the strategic nature of the game. It’s important to remember

that Investment suggests if we are committed to move change forward, the change must be included in plans, measurements and budgeting for the future. This is the deposit box.

The middle row of the Bigger Game Board represents the move to action. The three squares in the middle remind us of the balance required for success in change or business in general.

The Assess square points to being aware of impact. It is that type of awareness without

judgment that is a cornerstone for emotional intelligence. Use this box to ask: “How am I doing?” “Where do I want to go?”

The importance of the Gulp square is the reminder that creating change requires a

commitment to push boundaries in a way that will sometimes take the breath away in a

literal Gulp. It has been suggested the opposite of Gulp is a yawn - or boredom.

The remaining square is Bold Action. Bold Action is intentionally in the center of the

Bigger Game Board. Its position is critical because all elements of a Bigger Game touch and are influenced by Bold Action. Perhaps the opposite of Bold Action can be named “typical behavior” or business as usual. Bigger Game players have been heard to say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” Change requires Bold


The Bigger Game is a playful, easy and fun metaphor. It is a concept that will take you only five minutes to learn and a lifetime to live. The Bigger Game offers a highly effective system for innovating and evolving as individuals, groups, or organizations. The method, when rigorously applied, helps individuals and groups intentionally define what they want to accomplish. It is designed to create a paradigm and perspective shift, and will inspire you to develop your full potential, to be your best, and to do your best to have a lasting, positive impact.

SWB Consulting Services is available to help you play your Bigger Game.

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