Making a Game

In the last issue, I wrote about taking a break from the game and shared some measures you could use to decide whether or not a vacation from pool would be helpful. This month, I want to take a look at an excellent way to spend some of that vacation time. Actually, I want to devote this column to the idea of making a game. This is a familiar term in our sport, but I’m not using it in the normal way. I’m not referring to working out the details of a gambling match—I’m referring to the larger game you are playing with your involvement in the sport.

The questions I’m asking are: Why are you playing pool? Why does it matter whether you shoot well or not? Why does it matter whether you improve or not? What is the future that your involvement in the sport is preparing for you?

These are unusual questions to ask in our sport, but they are powerful ones to consider. Contemplating them can bring great passion to your game. They can open up the doors to your personal power, and they can turn your game into a vehicle for self-expression. They can jump-start a stalled game, and they can make everything start humming like a well-oiled machine.

Many people fear these kinds of questions, however, because at some level they fear discovering their own shallowness. Even so, most serious players have looked deeply into themselves from time to time just to find a reason to continue playing. The quest for improvement is besieged with obstacles, and it is a rare individual who has reached a high level of play without confronting major frustrations. Perseverance in the face of such frustrations not only brings improvement, it also brings self-knowledge.

There is another fear associated with looking into your motivation for playing pool, and that is the fear of disappointment. What if you were to find out that the goals you have been holding on to are but vacant dreams? What if you looked deep and realized that you no longer care about the goals you set for yourself? What if you realized that the reasons you started down this path are no longer valid?

Ahhh … but that’s the game of self-development. Perhaps the phrase about making a game is the wrong one. Maybe the right phase is telling the truth about the game you are already playing. After all, it’s only when you know the truth about the game you are in that you are able to move to a higher level. When you tell the truth, you open up the possibility of creating—or discovering—a higher level game. It’s just like working your way through school. You don’t get to the seventh grade until you complete the sixth. You don’t get your diploma until you complete high school.

One way to take a conversation of self-inquiry to a deeper level is to start with the last known goal you had for pool that you failed to accomplish. State it simply and directly: “I said I was going to do (whatever) by (whenever).” Then tell the truth about what you actually did. No excuses necessary, just tell the truth. Know that if you really had accomplished it fully, then it probably wasn’t a big enough goal anyhow.

Once you’ve gotten a sense of completion about how it turned out, ask yourself, “What was missing? What was missing, that if it hadn’t been missing, I would have fulfilled that goal?” Look at this question from three different perspectives: who you were being, what you were doing, and what you were having. Look at what was missing in these three areas. Was passion missing? Was desire missing? Was being confident missing? Was integrity missing? Were you doing everything that you knew you had to do to accomplish your goal? What was missing? Did you have all the tools you needed? Did you have inner peace? What was missing?

Following this line of inquiry will reveal the deeper levels of the game you were playing. When you feel you’ve examined it as closely as you want, ask yourself for a new game, one that represents you as you know yourself to be now. Ask yourself for a game that will allow you to express yourself. If nothing comes up, stay on vacation!

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