Playing the Game, Dynamically
Playing the Game, Dynamically

Playing the Game, Dynamically

“Success is the unintended side-effect of one who dedicates himself to a cause greater than self” – Viktor Frankl

As we venture into the new year, especially the work year, with COVID in full force in its second peak (in most parts of the world), it’s only natural that we are reminded how short life actually is and prodded to really question how we spend our lives, especially the part that is involved in work, earning a livelihood and ultimately our contribution to society.

I was listening to an audiobook over the last 2 weeks, and it helped me make sense of a few key points that really sum up, bringing meaning and purpose to our work.  You may have heard of it, Outliers, The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell surmises that there are 3 key facets that need to be at play to help us bring meaning to our job: autonomy, complexity and the link between performance and reward.

*Autonomy: the ability to be left to independently carry out tasks and be responsible and/or accountable for the action.

*Complexity: work that lacks lustre or is easy, is boring, so having complexity and a challenge would be key.

*Link between Performance and Reward: being rewarded for our performance and impact, via incentives, recognition and financial and non-financial benefits, and having these correlated.

If your interest is piqued and you want to read further on it, but you’re still not sure if this book is your cuppa tea, then check out my review and others on and form your own opinion.

But reflecting over these factors, it got me thinking about another concept I learnt about in my philosophy studies: the idea of working for a higher ideal. Living a life of action driven by a higher goal. A goal higher than attaining just personal benefits (selfish and ego driven). Higher ideals are goals we can strive to achieve and inspire us at a thought, emotion and action level. An example of a self-driven goal say in a corporate job, would be to aim to become the best manager in your department. In contrast an example of a higher ideal at work at an action level, would be to strive towards to becoming the manager that all staff, even those outside of your team, would be comfortable coming to you to grow/seek advice/be inspired/etc. by. It doesn’t matter what the example or action is, what matters is the intention behind the goal. Is it so that “you” can be the best/be in the spotlight/be recognised/be rewarded? Or is for the betterment of the staff/the company/the clients? i.e., is it just for personal gain or is it something outside of yourself. This pull to contribute and make a difference, outside of yourself, in essence is working for a higher ideal and the philosophical term for this is living dynamically as a “karma yogi” (selfless/right action).

I would go a step further and call it more than work or a job, but our contribution to society, our impact and making our selfless mark, however big or small, whether corporate or creative or other. Some schools of thought, refer to it as Servant Leadership.

I also stumbled upon this fantastic article from that really tested my thinking on whether I was in a comfort zone, whether I had the meaning and purpose I wanted at work. See the link below if this is something you have been wondering about as well. 



Whether you related to Malcolm Gladwell, the karma yogi or servant leadership philosophy or research from Good People HR, one thing is clear, we don’t know what the future holds, with unpredictable economies and this COVID pandemic. Change is the only constant and playing this game of Life, we must carefully think our choices through and use every moment to live our best lives, with growth, impact and dynamism.