Subscribe to our Blog!


Ingrid Martine and Rick Maurer - The Un-Game Book Interview

How Much of Your Energy Are You Willing to Invest in Your Freedom?

Un-Game Principle: You are free to the extent that you are able to choose freely.

If I ask you “How important is your freedom to you?” you will without hesitation answer: “very important.” If I then narrow the inquiry to freedom in relationships, could you identify specific examples of where you feel restricted? For example, do you trust yourself to interact freely with a spouse, or do you often internally monitor what you are saying for fear of negative or unintended consequences? Ditto for an interaction among colleagues, a boss, friends, or with subordinates.

As I reflected on the issue of freedom–yes, it’s very important to me too– I realized it’s largely because so many of us feel so “un-free to be ourselves” that I wrote my book The Un-Game:Four-Play to Business As Unusual.

Next I asked myself just what a powerful definition of freedom is. I landed on Cicero’s, statesman of ancient Rome. He asserted “Freedom is the participation in power.” Far from being abstract or too ancient, this definition is the perfect guide not only for identifying and acting on our public-good priorities, but also on our personal ones.

Let’s stick with the personal. Isn’t it our personal priority to be free, for example, to unselfconsciously be ourselves? Who wants to walk around on eggshells with spouses, children, employers, employees, colleagues, friends and relatives? Yet we often do, don’t we? Could it be that we are missing major opportunities to participate in power by the way we imagine and thereby limit the horizons of our relationships?

Take for example a conflict situation (oh no!). How do we participate in power now? Most of us suffer from a failure of imagination. Mostly unconsciously, we generally limit ourselves to only three roles ( and by the way, this can be an internal conflict where there’s only me, and yet I can play any and all three roles all by my lonesome!). We can’t necessarily consciously identify these roles, but all of us recognize them. They are The Persecutor, The Victim, and The Rescuer. (How many of us have mercilessly berated ourselves for something we wish we had done differently? Hello, Persecutor.) These roles, by the way, were identified in the 1950ties in the Karpman Drama Triangle.

A simple example is Person 1 upset with Person 2.  Assume that ‘upset’ is clearly reflected in the tone of voice of Person 1.

Person 1: Why didn’t you pick up after yourself?

Person 2: If you had had the kind of day I had….

In this small interchange Person 1 feels as if they are the victim of Person 2. Person 2 has violated some explicit or imagined agreement. Person 2, however, sees Person 1 as the persecutor. Rightfully so. The question is not a question for information. It’s designed to attack, whether the tone of voice is whiny or accusatory. It could be said that Person 2, in trying to then explain, is acting in the rescuer role, but is probably perceived by Person 1 as now acting the victim. Next may come an argument about whose pain is greater or more important.

Dismal, eh? And familiar, right? And certainly both parties feel anything but empowered. No freedom here by Cicero’s definition. There’s no participation in power in this drama triangle. Our choices for action are so impoverished precisely because we feel so powerLESS!

I suspect that we get stuck in a persistent loop of disempowerment in our important relationships because we become blinded by our emotions, and we can neither imagine nor articulate roles we could play that would guarantee our escape from these life-threatening roles of persecutor, victim, and rescuer. The freedom we so cherish remains just outside of our reach. And we are miserable.

So how do we make this shift to participating in power and thereby having a real experience of delicious freedom?

The Un-Game is a story that takes readers on the path to empowerment and therefore to the freedom to design life rather than submit to it. Stories are powerful teachers because stories are like Velcro. They stick!

But there are avenues to freedom other than through the slow discovery in a good story. Contact me to have a direct experience of the coaching The Un-Game is based on. Or, ask google to connect you to coaching colleagues of mine who also have articulated a brilliant antidote to the dreaded roles of the drama triangle. David Emerald and Donna Zajonc have written The Power of TED (The Empowerment Dynamic) in which they identify and illustrate the roles we play when we are truly free, that is, when we participate in real power as opposed to the ersatz power of the persecutor, victim, and rescuer (lest you doubt that the victim exerts enormous power, think again!).

The roles we play in The Empowerment Dynamic triangle are The Creator, The Challenger, and The Coach. If you do nothing except allow yourself to wonder what these roles might look like in your life, you will have taken an important step toward the freedom to design the life you long for.

Just how much energy are you willing to invest in your freedom? If you hear yourself saying “But I’m too busy. I don’t have time. I can’t…”, I’m here to tell you it’s not true (really!). What role in the drama triangle are you playing? If you find yourself being irritated by my  “It’s not true” assertion, and you notice yourself protesting “But it is true! What do you know anyway?”, do you at least allow yourself to wonder whether you’re in the role of challenger in the empowerment triangle? Hmm. Keep wondering and looking. There may be uncoveries to be made. Go for it. Freedom is not free. Invest in your freedom to be your best and most powerful self.  How sweet would that be?

Image credit: Xenia Rassolova

Ingrid Martine, MA, PCC, Coach and author of The Un-Game , Four-Play to Business as Unusual, a show, not tell tool for coaches, managers, and “will do” teams, works with organizations and individuals to empower them to move their lives from a 7 to 10 at work, home, and play.  For her FREE report, “Reap the Harvest of a Quiet Mind:  Empower Self, Empower Others”, or “Management Training for Business as Unusual”, visit:, or connect with Ingrid at: and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *