William Liao

March 23, 2021

The long game = short game + short game + short game

Most things worth doing require your participation in what feels like a long game: 

Switching careers involves years spent acquiring new skills, and countless job applications and interviews. 

Getting a Ph. D. involves years of course work, research, publications, going to conferences, and writing a dissertation. 

Qualifying for the olympics involves a lifetime of consistent training and rest. 

If you only set your sights on the thing that happens at the very end of the journey like the new job, the degree certificate, or the qualification event, it’s no wonder the journey can feel long and exhausting. 

The journey doesn’t have to feel that way though.

There is a more empowering way of seeing the long game: recognizing it as just a series of short games (or daily wins). 

Like this: 

If you show up to a lesson to acquire a new skill, you’ve won for the day. 

If you show up to collect data for your research, you’ve won for the day. 

If you train hard at the gym and get good rest afterwards, you’ve won for the day. 

Seeing each step forward in the journey as a victory provides what a long-game perspective can’t: a sense of forward motion and the feeling of reinvigoration that we often need to march ahead. 

This is especially important to understand when tackling the most elusive long game of them all: creating a great culture. 

There isn’t a single decisive moment that makes for a great culture where everyone thrives, yet we somehow are able to detect when a culture gets better — when the work environment becomes healthier, when the community becomes more vibrant. 

The way you change the culture is the way you treat any other long game: you see each act for the essential building block of the future that it is. 

Every kind act you commit, every compassionate thing you do and say, are victories in and of themselves. 

When you shift your mindset to seeing your daily actions as win, you create the best possible chance for the future you seek to become a reality.