This phrase has such widespread use that there is at least one movie with it as the title. Typically, it is applied as a challenge or as encouragement. The implication is that you would heighten your focus and tightly manage known inhibitors of your best performance. The context is usually when things are being tightly contested, with a lot at stake. The movies: “Tap” and “Bring Your A Game”, give some exciting examples of how this concept plays out.
If you are a teammate, it means, “no foolishness”; deliver with no excuses. If an opponent, it means; “no quarter asked or given”. If it’s self-talk, it is a reminder of all that you have done to prepare and what has worked best in the past.
What if you have no A game? What if your A is only a lower letter when confronted with someone more talented, experienced or committed? Further, what does it take to have an A game?
It brings to mind youthful experiences in my community when we gathered for pick-up games. In this instance, the game of choice was basketball, which I loved to play. Unfortunately, when sides were chosen, I was seldom picked unless there were only enough to form two teams.
When there was enough to form three or four teams, competition intensified as “rise and fly” came into effect. This means a queue formed as to who would face the winning team and the losing team would have to sit. Of course, each team sought to assemble a team that could win against everyone else. I can remember bringing a basketball to the court in hopes of being selected. Alas, when “rise and fly” started, my game did not warrant being selected. When I got tired of being a spectator, I took my ball and went home.
This experience and others like it have motivated me to work on my game and be more selective about which games are ones where I have legitimate A game. In these times when everyone’s “game” is being called into question, it might be useful to look at some guides to developing your game.
Try these questions:
a) What is your main game; what do you do best?
b) What are some universally recognized criteria that signify best practice for your particular game?
c) How often do you meet or exceed these criteria and have it affirmed by independent, non-biased observers?
d) How have these criteria evolved and what have you done and/or are you doing to adjust your game?
e) When were you last tested by persons or circumstances that required you to exercise and display your best game?
f) How do you pass on your knowledge, skill and experience to those seeking excellence in your game?
As we answer and act on these questions, it should call forth a level of discernment and humility that keeps us asking: “how can I do it better next time”? With this, the concept of continuous improvement comes to life and authenticity takes on a powerful aspect.
The ongoing concerns about how our country and the larger global society can overcome the prevailing state of havoc, is directly linked to our willingness to bring our A game. The more we consciously strive to become better, more complete persons; the more everything will improve.