A Subtle Trap: Are You Playing to Win or Playing Not to Lose?

By: Ron Patulski

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It’s not uncommon when the economy shifts to become more discerning and ask more questions. With this perspective, it also is not unusual to be more conservative and seek to protect your interests, using past experiences, especially damaging ones, as a lens for the future. As this happens, less action is taken gradually to minimize risk, and your results reflect the impact of less effort. This is a characteristic of a perspective we call “playing not to lose.”

Playing not to lose is subtle. Gradually, your actions shift, and then suddenly, you recognize your efforts are aligned to protect rather than achieve. This drains your energy as you unknowingly act to protect what you already have instead of acting to achieve and gain more. It can happen to anyone and ultimately inhibits what you intend to achieve because you cannot succeed when you’re trying not to fail.

A fundamental principle of Quantum Physics is “what you focus on expands.” “Playing not to lose” is a focus. It is a defensive energy. It’s a strategy based on a form of fear because fear says to be careful and watch out for the negative or downside, and it is usually rooted in an experience from the past. When a person is focused on not losing, it’s not uncommon that they lose some or all of what they are attempting to protect. This happens because Quantum Physics operates on the premise that like energy attracts like energy. When a person is focusing on not losing, the energy of losing is the dominant energy. This dominant energy around the subject of losing attracts the likeness of circumstances of losing.

As you know, this is a “self-fulfilling prophecy.” It’s important to distinguish that the science of Quantum Physics operates on the energy around the words used, not the words. Therefore, even though the intent is to “not lose,” the energy of a person “playing not to lose” is protecting not to lose. If the point concerns losing, how can a person win when their world is not about winning but protecting themselves from losing? You can clearly see it is a “losing strategy” with no pun intended.

For example, in the current real estate market, buyers scrutinize the option to purchase a new home as interest rates rise. Sellers with low mortgage rates decide to keep their low rates and tolerate not having what they want or need in their homes. They put their life on hold to keep a low-interest rate. So, buyers unknowingly play not to lose, hold off buying a home, and play the waiting game with the many other buyers playing not to lose. Sellers play not to lose and stay in their current home to preserve their mortgage rate, forgoing the opportunity to grow and get what they want and need to build their future.

In both cases, they forfeit the opportunity to gain what’s possible by playing to win because they are focused on protecting what they have and not losing. Ultimately, buyers in this situation pay more for their homes as they eventually compete against the buyers who were also playing not to lose. They rarely get the mortgage rate they waited all that time expecting it to go down. Sellers stay and put up with living without what they need in a home and have more competition when they eventually sell, which impacts their final sale price. Also, they often pay more when buying their next home because more buyers compete for the home they want.

It’s been said that “the best defense is a good offense,” which makes sense because when focusing on offense, there is little to defend. Playing to win is a perspective to win in life and a valuable offensive strategy. It’s rooted in faith and a belief in what’s possible. Faith has been defined as the substance of things desired and the evidence of things not yet seen. The fuel to propel a “playing to win” strategy is faith. From a Quantum Physics perspective, believing in a possibility and focusing on taking action to accomplish or “win” aligns the energy to do just that. So, just as playing not to lose attempts to align energy to protect you and unknowingly puts you at risk of losing what you have rather than attracting growth, playing to win aligns energy to attract what you want so you succeed and grow.

These choices generate significantly different results. The clear winner is a playing-to-win strategy.

Create A Playing-To-Win Strategy:

  1. Evaluate: Look at your current behavior and approach to determine your strategy in that area of your life. Are you playing to win or playing not to lose? Awareness is the first step to change.
  2. Have Faith: Fear and faith have something in common. They both ask you to believe something you cannot see in that moment that you believe will happen. Fear asks you to think the negative, influencing a play-not-to-lose strategy. Faith asks you to believe in your goals and dreams, which births a play-to-win approach. Where are you living? If you’re interested in discovering what may be holding you back, use this link to schedule a valuable exploration call.
  3. Visualize: Think about the desired outcome if you’re not in action or feeling stuck. What is your inner dialogue about that outcome as you envision the result? Turn up the volume. Internal dialogue is the author of fear to influence you to be tentative and form a strategy of playing not to lose. Consider seeking counsel from a person in your life who you respect or going deeper with a coach. Consider exploring the option of coaching by using this link.
  4. Reflect: Fortify your playing-to-win strategy daily. As part of this process, be aware of your thoughts and feelings as you move forward. Daily reflection and setting intentions to start your day is a way to accomplish this. It’s not unusual to have doubt. Your awareness of occasional doubt allows you to work through the doubt to get back on track.
  5. Act: Be intentional about noticing your behavior and actions and aligning with those actions to provide feedback that you are playing to win. Your feelings and energy are a valuable gauge. Use the “Letting Go” process by allowing the negative feelings to surface and evaporate as you experience them instead of stuffing them down. The less your negative feelings drive you, the more empowered you will be to play to win.
  6. Be Generous: Part of success is fueled by giving, which is a component of a playing-to-win strategy. Scientists have discovered that generosity of any kind releases three hormones that allow humans to flourish. When you share and give to others on your path to success, you release serotonin, stimulating positive feelings and a sense of well-being. Dopamine is released to provide pleasure, satisfaction, and motivation, and oxytocin is released to produce feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection. Be purposeful to be generous daily, even in small ways, by being patient, kind, smiling, or encouraging. Small acts over time accumulate and shift the energy to attract abundance for everyone.

Some of the greatest inventions, works of art, and legendary businesses were created during challenging markets and economies despite the narrative from the naysayers and pessimistic predictions because those involved chose to play to win. Your success is just a choice away.


Ron Patulski