The Lesson I Learned from Doodle Jump

So I was going through my touch flipping through applications the other day, when I came across it.  Doodle Jump.  For those of you who don’t know what Doodle Jump is, it’s an insanely addictive game where you move a little Doodler as he jumps from platform to platform, evading obstacles and monsters, to try and climb to a new highest score.

The game always ends with you reaching the inevitable frustration of watching your little Doodler plunge to his doom as you let out a, “Noooooo”…and then play again.

The thing is, I haven’t played this game in months.  At one time something that was so addictive and exciting has lost its allure.

I sat there wondering why my mind wasn’t interested in jumping through Doodle Land anymore.  I knew the appeal was gone as I sat there playing a game, just waiting for it to be over. (Well, actually I have to admit I still break this out from time to time.) But it was no where near as exciting as it once was.

And it dawned on me that the game just got to be monotonous.  What were once exciting challenges turned into redundant expectations.  The flow of the game had been lost because there were no new difficulties.

What I learned from Doodle Jump is that life without challenge becomes boring.  Entertaining new challenges and ideas would mean your considering doing something you did not think possible. Otherwise we get caught up in the rut of reaffirming what we already know we can do instead of trying out new ways of being.

Think about it.  We may enjoy when things become easy.  But overtime that enjoyment will transform into boredom.  A skier will get bored riding down the same green circle slope. They have acquired new skills and what once tested their abilities and gave them excitement now only gives a fraction of the happiness it used to.

A tennis player, will not enjoy hitting with someone who is well below their skill level as they would with someone who slightly surpasses it.  An avid reader will not get the same enjoyment from those 3rd grade picture books (Well, there are always exceptions!) But you get the picture.  (Pardon the pun)

New challenges are not something that should be avoided, but embraced as an opportunity for learning and improving skills. In Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s (Try pronouncing that one) Flow, he found that when challenges and skills were both high, people felt more cheerful, active, creative, and satisfied.

I have reached many points in my life where I have felt dissatisfied in something that once was a great source of joy.   Exercise seems to be the most redundant one.  I would try to just push through the resistance, but it was only making matters worse.  It was like forcing myself to play Doodle Jump for an hour each day.

It wasn’t until I started thinking about exercise in new ways, breaking free of my routines, and doing different genre’s of activities that I really got back into the enjoyment of an active lifestyle.  Swimming, hiking, sprinting, rock climbing, dancing, have all been new challenges and new levels of excitement.

I started hitting a wall with my blogging as well.  I was really starting to dread it.  I tried to be so methodical and precise in my posts that they lost their enjoyment. Now I try and take personal stories and examples and just talk them out.  Much more exciting because I don’t search for the ideas, I just live out my life, sit on my porch play some Doodle Jump, and then write a post on that!

I challenge you to challenge yourself.  It might just break the barrier of boredom you’ve been chronically hitting against.

Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway

The difference between intention and action is courage.  It gives life to our virtues.  It is the foundation that creates a reality around those beliefs.

The word courage comes from the same stem as the French word Coeur, meaning heart. In Rollo May’sThe Courage to Create, he explains how courage is the essence that pumps vitality into all our virtues. Without courage, who we are, simply would not exist, and our fidelity would fade into conformism.

The presence of courage does not mean the absence of fear, it is rather the ability to move beyond it. Feel the fear and do it anyway.  It keeps us sharp, on edge, and on point.

Everything your body does when the pressure is on is good for performance.  Bill Russell was one of the greats in the game of basketball winning an NCAA Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, and professional championship all in the same year.  Here’s the kicker, before every single game Russell would throw up. His nerves would keep him on point.  So much so, that in 1963, when didn’t puke before games he had his greatest slump of his career.  He then got to the playoffs, puked, and played one of the best games of the season.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.  Trust in your abilities and allow them to flow.  Do not suppress them in fear.  Like a squirrel scurrying across a telephone wire it doesn’t think, “oh geez, I’m going to fall.” It doesn’t think at all it just scurries.

The only need you have in life is to fulfill your own potential.  And you already have what you need inside of you.  It is your own unique abilities.  Be courageous and act upon them! They will bring your virtues to life.  Any resistance you feel is only a natural reaction that even the best experience.

Rollo May’s extremely empowering outlook calls on our accountability.  If you do not express your original ideas you will betray not only yourself but your community in not making your contribution.

There is something very special in you that needs to be shared with this world.  No one else can share it – it is up to you and you alone.

It takes courage to be legendary.  Courage to be your authentic self, courage to help form the structure of the new world, and courage to act on your beliefs.  But in order to do incredible things you must have incredible ideas.  You might be labeled an an idealist, an audacious maverick, or a crazy fool, but legendary outcomes are not about the odds they are about the actions.

Making a Better Work Environment

“If it isn’t fun, why do it?” says Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.

Its ironic that what many of us dread, another day of work, is supposed to be an environment for productivity, creativity, and innovation.

Work and play are considered opposite ends of the spectrum.  But can the two co-exist?  Can we have some fun and dare I say even enjoy going into work? And if we can, what does that mean for results and outcomes?

David Ogilvy, head of an advertising agency says, “Make it fun to work at your agency.  When people aren’t having fun they seldom produce good advertising.”

“Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father,” said Roger von Oech.

Yet when the idea of play is brought up, it’s like violating the sacred sanctuary of the office.  It will only distract and detract.  What other offices incorporate play into their work culture?  Aren’t casual Friday’s sufficient?

A company seeks for its employees to generate new ideas. This is accomplished by the unexpected joining of two old elements creating something new.  Bringing fun to the workplace could not only produce innovation, but the joining of these two elements is innovation.

There is no harm in planting some seeds to make your workplace more enjoyable.  In fact, there is significant benefit.  Creativity, camaraderie, increase in results, and a breeding ground for ingenuity, just to name a few.  Not to mention your own personal well-being gets a boost.

Be creative. Find ways to make work fun. Because if it isn’t fun, why do it?

Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning.

Darts. Put a dart board up in the conference room for people to play when they need a break.

Get outdoors. On a nice day get outside.  Suggest holding one of your meetings outdoors.  Who knows what ideas could arise from mother nature.

Decorate. Decorate your office with stuff you enjoy. Bring in kids pictures or artwork to hang in the office lobby or break room.

Talent Show. No one can resist showing off what they are good at.

Dress Up Day. Every now and then you can’t deny, you enjoy dressing up.

Personal Project. Structure into the work curriculum a project to work on with no guidelines – completely up to whatever each person is interested in. (Google has gotten most of its ideas this way)

Group TV Shows. Once a week, or even once a month, watch a favorite TV show. The Office perhaps…

Baby Pictures. Put up a board of baby pictures and guess who is who.

Dance. Turn up the tunes and show off some moves.  While your doing it check out the lyrics for the songs you always lip sing to (ie. Macaroni)

Making the work place more enjoyable will ultimately turn it into an environment generating some legendary ideas.

The Fox and the Hedgehog

There is the common misconception that with the influx of information there is an increase in knowledge.

We live in a world of rationalizers. I am going to tell you right here and now that openness is the remedy to a fixed mindset.  Now let me momentarily diverge to give clarity to this idea of filtered conceptualization.

Politics.  The argument can be made that the acquisition of information can be directly related to decrease in partisan bias.  But knowing more about politics doesn’t necessarily accomplish this.  Voters tend to assimilate facts that confirm what they already believe.  They think they’re evaluating candidates, but what they are actually doing is inventing or ignoring facts so they can rationalize decisions already made.

It is as if voters twirl a cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want.

This filter effect, which is so prominent in politics, extends into every aspect of our life.  We tend to look for information that already confirms what we already believe.  We edit the world to fit our ideology.  Imperative as focus is, we must make the distinction between a focused mind and a disregard for certain possibilities.

Historian Isaiah Berlin used animalistic mentalities to exemplify this very point.  While a fox knows many diverse things, a hedgehog knows one big thing.

When attacked, a hedgehog rolls itself into a ball so that its spines point outward.  A fox, on the other hand, does not rely on a single strategy.  A fox adjusts its strategy to a particular situation.  Accepting a situation as ambiguous, the fox relies on tailor-made approaches when conceptualizing possibilities.

The difference between the fox and the hedgehog is that the fox evades the seduction of certainty, while a hedgehog reassures itself with a foregone conclusion.

The fox’s abilities to think further than its preconceptions about a situation, make it a cunning and sly predator.  Foxes live in the unknown, constantly adapting to and evaluating different possibilities.

We take comfort in certainty.  Building blocks and cornerstones exist on this very premise.  The weakness of certainty is when you know you are right, you stop listening to perspectives that say you may be wrong.

Cognition is a powerful human asset. Like any muscle of the body we need to practice to strengthen it.  Foxes are notoriously cunning because they think about thinking.  They study their own decision-making process and gather information from a wide variety of sources.

It seems that the acquisition of knowledge lies in the openness of perspective.  We must be willing to entertain new thinking.  As effective as that spike defense may be, we do not want to remain complacent in certainty, satisfied with status quo.

Like the fox, we must be willing to accept ambiguity and charter the unknown.  That is where the true comprehension of knowledge spawns from, and the willingness to navigate ambivalence carries with it the potential for extraordinary possibilities.