I don’t care how much patience you have, playing the long game is rarely fun.

Playing the short game means that you are looking for the quick win, instant gratification, fast paced action, or a series of rapid fire interactions.  The long game, on the other hand, means that you sacrifice the fast win if you think you can win the war by giving up the battle and regrouping.

It’s the difference in running a 100 meter dash or slogging through a marathon.

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Do you watch Sneaky Pete on Amazon?  If not, you should.  Sneaky Pete is a con man takes on his cell mates identity when he gets out of prison.  There are all manner of short cons and long games and double crosses going on in this storyline and the writers have done an excellent job of turning each season into a long game.

Playing long means taking the hit in the short term.  You’re sacrificing something right now in order to get something later – all without a guarantee that you’ll end up with that something later on.  When you come up empty handed, it’s so very frustrating.

Why is this even my topic for this week?

I just got home from a regatta yesterday, and my ass is still stinging. We sailed well, especially for a crew that doesn’t sail together that often.  We did alright on Friday, but Saturday was a great day for us, we really gelled.

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We embarrassed a competitor at the finish line, and in turn they decided to protest us for the start of the same race.  Had we known they were protesting us, we would have done our turns on the water and kept racing.  I don’t believe we fouled them, but I also believe in practicing penalty turns before every regatta, just in case.

Their convenient disregard for the rules was also a big disappointment for me.  I personally favor on the water umpiring since you know right then and there who committed a foul and who did not.

And then what happened?

We took a two point scoring penalty and moved on with our day.  Taking the penalty is a sorry second to doing turns on the course, but both are preferable to being disqualified, which might have happened in a hearing.

This significantly changed the standings, since we went from being in second place by one point to winning third place on a tiebreaker.  Tied with the protestors, did I mention?  Unfortunately we didn’t have quite the same day to finish up on Sunday, and we missed those two points that I had to give away – missed them fiercely, and for more reasons than just math.  There was a subtle change in our crew attitude – we knew we didn’t do anything wrong, but were paying a price anyway.

Move on, get along, don’t dwell on it or you can’t play the long game.

There will be other regattas, the crew will win some races and lose some races, that is the only certain thing in this situation.  If there are two races (or more) left in the regatta, of course I’m going to take the penalty and go on – although I should have had the option to take the turns on the race course penalty…

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I’ve advised people to take the penalty and play for the long game – the regatta – in the past.  I’d offer that same advice and I would make the same decision to take it again today.  I would also call the same start that I called on that race again today, and tomorrow, and the next day.  And the next day after that.

It’s not just about sports and gambling.

I have some friends who just took their house off the market.  They put it up for sale a couple of months ago, thinking it would sell quickly, and well, for some unknown reason it did not.  They’ve got no absolute need to be out of the place, the other condos they were looking at buying both got sold while they were trying to sell theirs, and so they came to the conclusion that living with their stuff in storage and shuffling back and forth between their boat all the time wasn’t making them happy.

They had dropped the price once, and had done all the right things to sell, the timing was just unfortunate; six months prior and it’s likely they would have had offers over asking within hours, not even within days or weeks.  But sometimes that’s the hand you are dealt.

So my friends reassessed their situation and decided to take it off the market.  Now they are going to do some more minor remodeling and just keep it.  Or at least keep it until the market heats up again and they can sell it for what they reasonably should get out of it.

Either way, turning a disappointing situation into a better one is what long game thinking is all about.  What they don’t want to do is live their life out of a suitcase in order to keep the house perfectly clean and staged and ready to show for any longer right now.

The long game teaches you that frustration will win if you let it.

Yes, it sucks that we didn’t win a regatta, and yes it sucks that my friends didn’t sell their place for 50K over asking in three hours after putting it on the market.  I look at the regatta as a warmup for two bigger ones coming up this year, and my friends are seeing their chance to keep some of the clutter they cleared out for staging as a permanent change in their home, while doing a bit more freshening up.

One of the things that playing the long game requires is discipline.  Without it, you may win a couple short games, but you’ll never be sitting at the last table in a poker tournament.  Kenny Rogers sings about knowing when to hold ’em and knowing when to fold ’em; that cheesy old song is still dispensing perfectly good advice.

It’s not always long game.

Refusing to get yourself out of a bad situation because you’re afraid to make a change is not long game thinking, it’s leading from a position of weakness.  If you know you need to pull the trigger on a change in your life but you are not willing to do it, then you’re playing a dangerous game – the kind that ends up with you in a really bad spot with a lot fewer options for success.

We’ve all done that with something in our lives, likely more than once or twice.  Experience is what creates a good long game player, and you do need to win more than your share of short games along the way, or you’ll be having a dull life that doesn’t spark joy.  Talk about mixed metaphors, eh?

Don’t forget that frustration part, please.

Ha!  You’re right, I did forget that part.  Practice your patience grasshopper, there’s no way to make it go faster, and you can only get poor results from starting with one strategy and not seeing it through at least the first inning.  If it’s not worktin, as I said above, don’t be afraid to change, but you need to have a solid plan for that change.

The trick to learning how to play a good long game is figuring out the difference between the battles and the war.