Rules of the Game

The first exercise in this wonderful little cartooning and illustration book is to draw an oval with three lines through it.

As most people who have done an art class know, this is the best way to get the basics of drawing a head. It’s a little counter-intuitive, with the eyes halfway down, but that’s how we do it.

The key point of this exercise is not to get good at drawing heads (or anything else for that matter), but to know the rules of the game.

A lot of cartooning is about breaking the rules, but before we can break the rules, we first need to know them.


The same is true elsewhere.

Life is full of games, and every game has rules. 

Some games have hugely complex (and sometimes contradictory) webs of rules. Some have just one or two.

Some rules are consist of thick red lines, others of the lightest pencil sketch.

Knowing the games and knowing the rules often doesn’t come easily. 

Even the simplest games with the fewest rules can be hard to learn and become competent at.

It’s harder still when we’re entering a new game. 

As well as learning the rules of the game, we’ll probably have to unlearn some of the rules we’ve previously abided by, bent, or broken.

There are hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of games. Here are just four as food for thought.

  • Writing novels instead of blog posts
  • Being the boss after life as an individual contributor
  • Transitioning from a senior corporate role to independent consulting
  • Becoming part of a new country or culture as an immigrant

It’s worth considering:

  • Which game you’ve come from, and the one you’re entering;
  • The rules you abided by, the rules you bent, the rules you broke;
  • The rules of this new game, and which of them you need to know before you start;
  • Whether you’re playing to win;
  • And why you’re playing.

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