Choose to be a Player

by Stephen Mills on October 20, 2009

Michael Jordon

The source of many of the ideas in this article are from Kevin and Jackie Freiberg’s excellent book Boom!: 7 Choices for Blowing the Doors Off Business-As-Usual.

“How hard are you willing to play?  Your future – the quality of your life at work, your reputation, and the significance you glean from making a difference – depends on your answer.”  — Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

Players bring joy, energy, and passion to the game of life.  Players derive meaning and joy from their contributions.  Players have a voice.  They speak up and influence the cultures in which they live and work.  Players take a stand, join the dialogue, and shape the debate.

You can choose to be a player in the game of life.  A player takes life by the horns and makes things happen.  A player is proactive rather than reactive.  Or you can choose to be a spectator and let life just happen to you.  I choose to be a player.

What a Player Does

  • Brings the right attitude regardless of the circumstance they face.
  • Creates a pocket of success within their area of influence.
  • Assumes responsibility for their own development.
  • Learns daily.
  • Seeks out and volunteers to help with entrepreneurial projects.
  • Takes the lead.
  • Chooses to think and act like owners of problems.
  • Changes from the inside out.
  • Does not gossip.
  • Goes for it.
  • Presses for solutions in the face of complaints.
  • Supports their ideas with well-thought-out cases.
  • Does not play small.
  • Admits mistakes and apologizes.
  • Seeks out challenges.
  • Mediates conflict.
  • Speaks positively of others.
  • Seeks forgiveness rather than permission.
  • Does not let others determine how they feel and act.
  • Has a sense of optimism for being able to make a difference.
  • Seeks rewards based upon their ability to get results.
  • Focuses on things they can control.
  • Plays to win and leans toward risk.
  • What they do matters.
  • Confronts constructively.
  • Loves what they do.
  • Is generally grateful for many things.
  • Remains true to their values and themselves.

What do you think?  Leave a comment and join the conversation.


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills October 20, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Guess that makes my a player, how cool. Stephen, that’s an excellent list of 28 things we should all strive to be.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Maintaining Your Youthful Enthusiasm At Any Age =-.


Stephen Mills October 21, 2009 at 6:50 am

Hello Jonathan. I know you are a player and I’m amused at the fact that you counted the list 🙂


timethief October 20, 2009 at 10:11 pm

There’s a trend in our society that dictates that the best folks are those who are suited to teamwork ie. the best are people people. I am at odds with that kind of thinking. I’m an INFJ who swings back and forth into the INTJ personality description as well. I’m definitely leadership material but have no strong inclination towards being a team player and group hugger. In fact, as I age I find myself to be less extroverted and less willing to be involved in groups.

Over the course of many years I have utilized opportunities to make a difference in my own community. I have taken stands, joined the dialogue and the debate and have been successful when it comes to affecting changes that have benefited my community as a whole.

Do I possess the qualities that you list above? Yes, indeed I do but I would never characterize myself as “a player”. I am a loner and contrary to popular belief, not all loners are shy people who have a pathological fear of social contact. Instead, they appear to require solitude to process thoughts and events, because those stimuli register far more strongly with them than they do in outgoing people.

Introverts aren’t just less sociable than extroverts; they also engage with the world in fundamentally different ways. While outgoing “people people” savor the nuances of social interaction, loners tend to focus more on their own ideas—and on stimuli that don’t register in the minds of others. Social engagement drains them, while quiet time gives them an energy boost.

Dr. Ester Buchholz, a psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist who died in 2004 at the age of 71, did quite a bit of research on solitude during her career, what she called “alone time.” She thought that society undervalued solitude and alone time and overvalued attachment. Dr. Buchholz thought that periods of solitude were important if we were to tap our creative potential and so do I.

Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.

So while I take no issue at all with the list you have provided I do take issue with the “player” label and the basketball image. They imply that all those who posses such qualities are inclined to being team players and that just isn’t so.

Many of us introverts are capable of assuming leadership roles and working well with others; it’s simply not our preference to do so, because when we function at our optimal levels we do so alone.
.-= timethief´s last blog ..A Lovely Award =-.


Stephen Mills October 21, 2009 at 6:40 am

Hello timethief. Thanks for your very thoughtful comment. As a result of your comment I added a slight clarification to the beginning of the article.

I think you took “player” in the wrong sense. The article was intended to describe attributes of those who played in the game of life as opposed to those who are merely spectators. It’s the difference between be proactive and making things happen as opposed to letting them happen to you. I was not trying to describe a “team player”. That is why you, a self-described introvert, can still see the qualities as applying to you.

It is interesting because many of the things you describe about yourself, I would also use to describe myself. I can’t remember exactly how I come out on the Myers-Briggs evaluation, but I definitely remember I come out as an “I” introvert. I have very high value for alone time and seek it out daily. It’s interesting because people who know me fairly well often would not describe me as an introvert because I do have social skills and when in social situations I can be very social.

I’m very much an individualist at heart and while I see the value of teams I don’t like them. I too have been very disappointed at the trend you describe that places too much emphasis on teamwork as opposed to individual effort. Fortunately it takes all types to make the world go around and there is a place for everyone. The person who can function well in either environment has a skill that can be quite valuable.

P.S. I guess I should have chosen Tiger Woods 🙂


timethief October 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm

That’s so much for clearing up my misunderstanding. 🙂
.-= timethief´s last blog ..A Lovely Award =-.


Armen Shirvanian October 20, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Hey Stephen.

What a list you have here. I am all those things at various times, but not consistently at all. I can easily see the ones I maintain at all times, and the ones I maintain less or barely at all. I am putting effort in towards various ones of these. I learned how to respond to a few of them from bad results, like when gossiping left me worse off, or confronting destructively caused a waste of time.

This set sure is what we can strive to be. Thanks for providing it.
.-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..A Hello Video With A Booming Introduction =-.


Stephen Mills October 21, 2009 at 6:56 am

Hello Armen and thanks for your thoughtful comment. I think we are all like that and we can only strive to improve because we all have plenty of room for it.


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} October 21, 2009 at 4:30 am

Hi Stephen,
Love the list!!! If we could all look at this list atleast once a weekwe would be reminded to be an awesome player …and never forget to keep striving to get there. I strive to be like the list or lets say follow the list all the time, but hey I do slip once in a while. But i would still like to be considered a player. Sounds and feels cool 😉 Helps me stay motivated 🙂
.-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Strength, Courage and Wisdom =-.


Stephen Mills October 21, 2009 at 6:59 am

Hi Zeenat. We all slip. I slip big time and I slip a lot but I do think I’m getting a lot better because I’m focusing on those areas that I need to improve. Thanks for stopping by to comment.


Zeenat{Positive Provocations} October 21, 2009 at 7:25 am

I always love to come here and drop in a line after reading your lovely posts. BUt of lately have been so caught up in the relocation..and then had to restart the blogging schedule. I seem to be more settled now, so will be coming around more often. I need my dose of “the rat race trap” 🙂
.-= Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s last blog ..Strength, Courage and Wisdom =-.


Vin - NaturalBias October 21, 2009 at 7:03 am

“A player is proactive rather than reactive. Or you can choose to be a spectator and let life just happen to you.”

This is one of my favorite self improvement topics. Life is what you make of it, and if you choose not to be a player, then you’re letting everyone around you dictate your life for you!
.-= Vin – NaturalBias´s last blog ..7 Ways We’ve Failed Miserably at Trying to Outsmart Nature =-.


Positively Present October 21, 2009 at 10:43 am

Great post! I usually think of a player as a negative thing, but you’ve changed the definition of what it means to be a player for me for sure! Thanks for sharing this… Loved it!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..being positive under pressure =-.


Miche - Serenity Hacker October 21, 2009 at 10:42 pm

Hi Stephen, this is a great list! It reminds me of one of the best jobs I ever had… there was a real team environment and the philosophy of the company and management at the time sought out (in hiring), modeled, fostered and rewarded these attributes in their employees. Not only did that make work rewarding, but it made working together a lot of fun! In addition, turn over was extremely low, and loyalty was very high. There was lots of passion and energy, and as a result of having lots of “players” making up the team, we shared a lot of success, too.

Thanks for putting this together!

Miche 🙂
.-= Miche – Serenity Hacker´s last blog ..There Is No Such Place As Stuck =-.


Steve October 22, 2009 at 3:08 pm

My favorites on this list is the fact that players do not gossip, and speak positively of others, especially in their absence. You cannot build trust with yourself first, and then with others, if you do not follow this rule.
.-= Steve´s last blog ..Everybody is Dirt Poor! =-.


Joe October 22, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Love it! made a copy to put on my desk. Very excellant reminder when we want to stay on track. Thanks!


Michelle Johnson November 2, 2009 at 8:56 am

Loved this…goog Monday morning “gut check.” Thanks for sharing.


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