Make the Game Follow YOU

Setting Expectations, Rules and Speaking your Mind

Growing up as a child like most young adults and teenagers, I was so worried about what everyone else is doing, saying, and thinking.  Were the cool kids talking about me and if they were, were they saying nice things, complimentary things, or just nasty, hateful BS?  In fourth grade, I remember practicing responding to insults and comebacks with my mom and middle sister.  I have always been an outspoken child and adult to the point of fault putting me in the line of fire more than once or twice.  There was this girl in school who was bullying me hard core.  She was making my life miserable, and for weeks I cried after school begging my mom not to send me.  Practicing comebacks helped but these only offered a temporary solution.

Yes, the “mean girls” act by that girl eventually subsided, but when you are young, those days feel like forever.  It was only years later that I learned  that the girl was having trouble in the home.  Her step father was beating her severely, and I served as her creative outlet to let off some steam.

And today, here I sit in a sort of other kind of high school.   It’s a place where we are supposed to be all grown up, and yet the same sort of insecurities creep.  We become worried as adults if people are talking about us or not enough.  What are they saying and who are they saying it to.  Except, there’s only one way to graduate, and voluntarily that is never a solution if you get my drift.

Yes, it’s big stakes now.  Money, success, and our future is all within our reach, but at what cost?  For me, I choose happiness with the plan of doing things the right way.  The right way free of negativity and malicious intent.  Helping to lift up others that are good people with good intentions in every way.

Make the Game Follow YOU

So after a lot of thinking, plotting, scheming, and paranoia, I’m come to this conclusion.  Make the game follow you.

Now, on the surface this sounds easy, except that it’s not whatsoever.  It meaning sticking your neck out, changing your perspective, being yourself, and risking it all, but if you succeed, you make the rules and the game is yours for the taking.  The idea even in theory is not easy for most.  Diving into an idea, a lifestyle, or a passion 100% heart first.

Now, I could be talking about the game of life, my life as a writer or mom, or my place in the HR and workplace industries.  Or I could be talking about all of them or none at all.  It doesn’t really matter because there are many games to play, and sometimes we don’t even know these games we are a part of.

It was only last year that I really stopped following the game.  I had an encounter with someone I admire and respect.  I left our meeting angry, confused, and upset.  I felt used, violated, and disgusted.  This meeting of the minds didn’t play out the way I had planned it to be.  I’m not one to be manipulated, and as I walked to my car, I held back tears as I didn’t want to appear weak, and cried as soon as the car door closed behind me.

It was only later upon some good advice from a wise professional friend that I decided to make the game follow me.  To make a choice to set the expectation, the rules, and speak my mind when no one else would.  Because there is power in being yourself and power for standing up for something or someone that no one else can, will, or should.

  • Quit Listening to Everyone.
  • Choose Those That You Trust and Choose Wisely.
  • Grow Thick Skin.  It May Get Ugly.
  • Not Everyone is Your Friend.  Nor Do They Have Your Best Interests.
  • Being Successfully Doesn’t Equal More Friends.  It Means You Are More of a Target.
  • People Are Suspicious of Generosity.
  • Above All Else.  Be Yourself and Be Okay with That.
  • Happiness, Love, Joy, and Passion Trump All.  (the business success will happen because you love what you do.)

These are the secrets to my current and future success.  Aside from hundreds of hours of research, preparation for my work, the only thing you have to do to make the game follow you, is to set clear expectations, and above all be yourself because being yourself is in short supply.  Make the game follow you.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Monali Parmar says

    Wow Jessica! This really hits home with me and I sincerely thank you for posting this. I still wonder what people are saying/not saying about me on a daily basis. I so needed this reminder today that it’s okay to be myself. Thank you again and have a great weekend!

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Hi Monali,

      It’s so hard to just let go and be okay with you. What people say about you does matter to a certain extent but that’s usually just a small percentage of people. The rest just follow based on the influences and opinions of a few others. Some out of fear, being lazy, or just worried about being found out.

      I’m finding there is so much power is being yourself. Most people spend a lifetime hiding behind their insecurities or a picture of what they think others want them to be.

      Thank you for the comment.


  2. Ray_anne says

    I love this post, Jessica. Thanks for always being honest and for being a person I can look up to in this industry.

    What we do every day to “just get by” is tough. What we have to do to “stand out” is even tougher. But what we have to do to “do what we believe is right”? Now, that is one of the most difficult parts of life to master – it is often so much easier to just “do it the easy way” instead of the right way.

    One of my mentors called me aside one time and told me, “You can put your fists down, Rayanne. I know you have been fighting for a long time to just get by. You have gotten by now, you are on your way, you don’t have to fight any more…” I was so stunned by his statement, by the fact that he saw that in me. I was shocked and ill-prepared to handle someone seeing through the wall I had worked so hard and so long to build.

    The walls we work so hard to build are often just as difficult to tear down…

    Thanks for sharing your raw heart…


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