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The Tao Game – a combined effort to achieve personal goals

The Tao Game (Jeu du Tao in the original French) derives from ancient traditions using lessons from history’s greatest minds – Buddha, Socrates, Lao Tzu, Jesus, Ibn Arabi – to develop this powerful game.
I learned about it, and was shown how to use it, by its creator Patrice Levallois.

The Tao game is a way of fulfilling a personal or professional wish with the help of other players.
It is a game that allows self-discovery and provides new ways/insights/perspectives of looking at new and old issues, a game in which everyone gives and receives help from using assertiveness, deep listening, open dialogue, freedom of speech, and constructive feedback.

The Tao Game integrates intrinsic aspects of coaching: clarifying a personal or professional quest, understanding the obstacles to achieving that quest, identifying personal resources, and making strong commitments to the quest. That is why is useful for those wanting to pursue a life goal and who are ready to commit to that goal with specific actions.

How is the Tao game played?

A group of four to six people gathers to play the game with a facilitator who is responsible for creating a dynamic based on cooperation, encouraging the art of communication to invite kindness, clarity, listening, and respect freedom of thought and speech.

A session typically runs from three to four hours and it is played on a game mat called Tao ban. The game can be played in one session, or extended over different sessions with the agreement by all participants.

The four worlds

Participants first define their quest, which is represented by a stone that they choose. They then “travel” across four worlds represented by the “element” – earth, water, fire, and air – that are represented by cards. Each element of nature offers different questions that bring important insights. Thus, earth cards offer clarification, fire cards identify obstacles, water cards pinpoint resources and air cards request your commitment.

During their turn, each player lands on a square that belongs to one of the four worlds. The player picks a card and reads the question out loud. When they are ready, the player gives an answer while the others listen and ask questions, if necessary, to help to clarify the player’s response. When their time is over, the player listens to the feedback from others.

Tao Oracle cards

Worthy of special mention is these types of cards based on the ancient Chinese book I Ching (also known as the Book of Changes) written by Tao Te Ching.
These cards are especially useful for:

  • Illustrating the current situation and provide you with a broader view of how things are
  • Obtaining an abstract interpretation of our personal situation
  • Acting as a catalyst to problem-solving
  • Stimulating the intuition to recognise what it “feels” right for you

Tao feedback

Giving and receiving feedback is a key aspect throughout the entire game because it allows players to compare and contrast what they say with what other players have understood.

As the game unfolds, the process of delivering feedback creates positive and constructive communication while recognising one another’s unique outlooks and being exposed to very different perspectives acting as mirrors to the player’s response.

When participants of the game give feedback to a particular player, they give them a certain number of beans that symbolise the quality of the answer given by the player.

Who plays the Tao game?

The Tao game can be played by both individuals or teams. If played by individuals, the aim is that each player individually and collaboratively helps the other players to achieve their personal quest.

If played by members of a team, the aim can be to develop a shared vision and build a common project or find new and creative ways to approach professional projects, always with the collaboration of each and every player.

Tao game for individuals

  • If you are a person with a clear goal in any area -financial, personal, relationship, or career, and you are ready to find specific ways to achieve it, then the Tao game is for you.
  • If you are already in a self-leadership coaching or leadership development process with me, the Tao Game is an excellent tool to move your coaching goals forward and strengthen your commitment.
  • You can play with a group of friends or acquaintances, for instance. If you are a single person interested in participating, contact me and I will organise a Tao game once I have the minimum number of participants.
  • The individual benefits through …
    • Being helped to fulfill your goal pursuit by receiving insightful points of view from other players and recognising your own resources
    • Holding you accountable for specific actions to achieve your goal by your fellow players.
    • An accountability partner (buddy) who can provide support after the game by checking in from time to time and ensure you stick to your commitments.
    • Developing awareness of inner and outer obstacles that hinder your goal achievement

Tao game for teams

  • Building a shared vision on a common project It is essential for teams and their leaders to have a clear shared vision to provide direction, meaning and a sense of commitment in a group. The Tao Game is an excellent tool to bring together the team members, and create an open communication atmosphere to discuss, share different perspectives, and reach agreements on set of actions collaboratively.
  • Finding new and creative ways to approach professional projects.
    Whether a team is stuck in their old work methods or they want to expand their professional practices, the Tao Game is perfect to develop a creative process in which team members will define new working practices by evaluating and implementing their skills.
  • The team benefits through …
    • Creating a teamwork culture and common commitment
    • Improved decision-making by including everyone in the process and using skill synergy
    • Developing awareness of aspects to be improved in the team
    • A team dynamic based on continuous learning, change, inspiration, and openness
    • Improved efficiency in the team thanks to open communication and trust amongst team members.

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