Is your Playbook shrinking your life?

If I asked you to describe your personal Playbook, what would you say?

You’d probably start by asking exactly what I meant. Perhaps you’d consult Wikipedia or maybe Google, which, after a little digging would offer you the following pragmatic description from

Think of a playbook like a detailed reference guide stored and accessed in your unconscious brain. When you get new information, become confused, run into trouble, or try to achieve a goal, you turn to your playbook to tell you what to do. Actual playbooks are common in sports, where coaches will document their plans for a game. When a new situation presents itself, the coach turns to the playbook to figure out what to do.

So, what’s in your Playbook? And do you think it’s serving you well? And specifically, do you operate from a Playbook based on fear or one grounded in love?

If self-awareness is your thing, the chances are you might try some answers to those questions, but for many, their Playbook functions mostly on autopilot. Like breathing, it operates without their conscious intervention, offering up familiar choices and responses time after time.

When you get to know someone well, you can sometimes glimpse the nature of their personal Playbook. You can start to predict their reactions to situations and challenges with a degree of certainty and make observations about the level of fear or love that seems to drive their choices. Often a someone else’s Playbook is much easier to read than our own.

While we are often told that fear is a bad thing it’s not always true. Fear can keep you alive – it’s natures survival mechanism designed to alert you in life-threatening situations. We should be glad it’s there so we can get the Hell Out of Dodge When Shit Happens. The problems start when we allow fear to dominate our Playbook strategies. Because while fear can protect you, too much fear can shrink your life.

If you are considering the nature of your own Playbook, it might help you to look at your life objectively. Is it where you hoped it would be? Has your life evolved or become more limited in nature? Have your decisions and choices reflected a desire to grow and expand or to avoid risk, err on the side of caution and maintain the status quo? Too much fear will act as a brake on your choices instead of taking a chance, accepting a new opportunity or allowing yourself to pursue your dreams, fear will counsel avoidance, tell you to opt for safety, urge you to stick to what you know and always ask for permission.

While we all experience fear to some degree, it will always be a more limiting theme in our Playbook than love. Love represents opportunity and connection. It inspires, generates curiosity and gratitude in life and represents all that it possible. It urges you to think outside the box, to embrace compassion, tolerance and curiosity.

If you think you might need to change your Playbook, you will need to examine its contents and edit out what’s not working for you. While this is often the task of a lifetime, even small changes can liberate you from frustration and begin to open new pathways. A colleague of mine recently changed the way she approached difficult conversations with others. Instead of mentally preparing her defences with the perfect rebuttal, she chose instead to listen carefully to what the other person was saying until they finished. Instead of instantly disagreeing with that persons view, she decided that curiosity might be a more productive path and simply asked why they felt that way? Her reward for changing her unconscious response has been fewer arguments and much speedier compromises. Changing her Playbook is paying off in terms of improved relationships and less stress.

Improving self-awareness is an important part of re-creating the contents of your Playbook and there are many ways to develop this essential capability from mindfulness through to the more traditional-needs based or preference-based personality models. As a corporate consultant and change coach, I’ve worked with a number of toolsets over the years to help people understand themselves and change the way they communicate, lead and manage others.

These days, I also partner with horses to help people develop the kind of rapid self-awareness that seems unlikely unless you have experienced it for yourself. While theoretical models can help people understand what drives their choices and behaviours, and so what may provide the foundations for their personal Playbook, a horse gives us immediate insight into the in-the-moment consequences of our Playbook strategies.

But whatever your chosen pathway, just remember that while you may not be able to change the direction of the wind, you can adjust your sails and still reach your destination. Life will always present challenges and opportunities but only you can adapt and evolve your Playbook to ensure that you thrive.

If you’d like to change your Playbook and explore how horses can help you deepen your self awareness and make change, please email or check out our upcoming workshops.