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You Can’t Play to Achieve A Nothing

You can't play to achieve a nothing

I said this in relation to a football match.

(It was the 8th October.  Scotland were playing Czech Republic.  They lost 1-0 after playing, in effect, to try and achieve a nil-nil draw.  It was a dispiriting result.  It wasn’t the loss.  Fans are used to the loss; this is a footballing nation that is famed for its ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  It was the absence of any attempt to win… any attempt to play… that got people down.)

But I realised after I wrote it, after I saw a few other people passing the comment around, that it had wider application.  For writing, for busines, for life.

You can’t play to achieve a nothing.

You have to be playing to create something, even if it seems impossible and out of reach.

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  1. Tweets that mention You Can’t Play to Achieve A Nothing | Confident Writing -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Joanna Paterson, Megan Micciulla. Megan Micciulla said: You Can’t Play to Achieve A Nothing #writing [...]

  2. Jackie Walker
    Twitter: jackiewalker

    Oh I love your wee Blackbird Pie, thank you for the tip.

    By just showing up there is ‘thing’ and not no-thing. Even if you are playing to lose, it’s some-thing.

  3. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach says:

    Nice take! (even though you used football instead of marching band to illustrate your point :) ).

    And your words are so true. Internalizing them - ah, that’s the kicker.

  4. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Jackie Walker: I think playing to lose would have been more entertaining than playing to achieve a no-thing of a 0-0 draw. It was seeing the lack of spirit that really made me think about how fear of the wrong result can lead to no result, just a no-thing. Glad you liked blackbird pie - I do too in the post, but disappointed it didn’t translate into the feed.

    @Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach: ah yes, the internalising thereof… work in progress to the end of our days, I guess ;-)

  5. Jan Scott Nelson
    Twitter: JanScottNelson

    Very thought-provoking, Joanna (of course!). I wonder, what of playing for playing’s sake ? To just be playing because we love to play - to move us inexorably in the direction of our (playful) passion. Or is that a different kind of playing… ?

  6. Craig says:

    There can be no doubt Joanna that a fear of failure often results in ‘playing to achieve a nothing’.

    I suppose in a football context I can understand the actions of the Scottish team, they really needed to achieve a ‘little something’ against far superior opponents.

    But in a writing and business context you are spot on.

  7. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    @Jan Scott Nelson: in this particular example Jan I think it would have been a delight to see them playing for the enjoyment of the game, for the love of the sport and hell mend the consequences. It was the limiting effect of trying to secure a nothing that was so dispiriting. And yes, I think all of that applies beyond the footballing example ;-)

    @Craig: well, I’m no expert Craig but I’m not sure it works in football either! Convince yourself you’re a minnow and afraid of the big boys… you’ll never win like that. And the effect on the fans, and the nation… is kind of dispiriting. More than kind of ;-)