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Chatper 2 It’s not the rules, it’s the game

3 minute read

Imagine this situation.

You are playing a game of chess and half-way through the game, there is a fire alarm and the building is evacuated. You are asked to leave the game as it is and run outside. You are told that you can come back and continue the game from where you left off.

You run outside and wait for the authorities to check what happened. It looks like there was a fire in the neighboring office pantry. Timely intervention has saved the day. But, it takes several hours to finally get a clearance to head back into the building.

The game is supposed to continue from where it was halted.

But, there is a surprise waiting for you. Instead of a chess board, there is a Go game board.

You ask the organizers where your chess game has been moved to. One of the elderly persons there taps on your shoulder and says, “Son, the game has changed, we are no longer playing chess. You are welcome to join the Go game. There are already several people who have started.”

“But, I don’t even know what this game is. I want to continue playing my earlier game,” you say.

He replies with a wry smile, “Sorry, playing the earlier game is no longer an option. Either you can play the game of Go or you can move to the sidelines and let others play.”

Looking at your puzzled face, the gentleman gently pushes you towards the sidelines and lets another person enter the hall where the games are going on.

You cannot believe it.

You feel that this is not fair.

It’s not the rules that have changed, but the game itself. Your mastery of rules, strategies, and tactics in the earlier game is suddenly relegated to near-irrelevance.

You don’t like this, but it seems like nobody cares about what you like or dislike.

If this appears like a bad dream to you, you are in for a rude awakening.

This is metaphorically what will be happening with the world as a result of the COVID-19 black bevy event.

Here is the sequence:

The pre-COVID era

You are busy with your life and work dealing with the usual challenges in your personal and professional lives.

During the COVID season

You are busy dealing with keeping you and your family safe and get whatever work you can get done.

The post-COVID era

You restart your life assuming that you can pick up where you left off. But, here is where you are in for a surprise. You realize that everything has changed. Yes, everything.

The genesis of the shock is at the level of fundamental assumptions and worldviews that had upgraded themselves to the level of “truths” you didn’t have to revisit until this point in time.


Because these assumptions and worldviews are at the core of how we learn, grow, love, live, work, and play. This is the way you grow up. This is what everyone around you thought and for all practical purposes, this is (was) your “truth”.

But, not anymore.

What’s not changed...

While you don’t have a choice but to play a different game, what has not changed is the need to play a long game. I often say that a shortcut is the longest route to a meaningful destination.

Now, let’s just look at a few implications of the latest buzzword, social distancing in the next chapter.

Suggestions for your “To Think” List

  • What is one thing should I stop doing that would help me be more effective?
  • What is one thing I should start doing that would help me be more effective?

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© 2005 - 2020 Rajesh Setty.