8.12.2012

Child's Play

I've been thinking lately. More than usual. About deep things.

Dinosaurs.
Outer Space
Atmosphere
The Universe
Ghosts.
The United States of America.

These are things I've been thinking about. Deep things. I've been thinking today and yesterday, however, about children's games. Or games in general. And winning. and what success is.

First let's discuss Chutes and Ladders.

In my leadership seminar, we discussed this game. The speaker asked what the best part of the game was. I said "Winning." Everyone else said "Sliding down the big slide at the end!"

I said "Yeah. If you're all idiots."

The speaker then went on to say that when you play with a kid, they may lose, they may slide all the way down to the beginning and lose tragically, but they are having fun, and they love it. He asked us what was the correct way to play the game.

Now this is supposed to make us think about life. Some people are incredibly successful. And some aren't. Just because you aren't doesn't mean you're not happy. But this analogy doesn't carry through. Why? It's all about the rules. Or the objective.

The objective of Chutes and Ladders is to win. I'm pretty sure the first rule isn't "Have fun!" However, the rules of life are different. The rule of life is to find happiness.

So the child is not playing Chutes and Ladders correctly. They lost. In your face small child.

Now. Let's discuss a different game.

Many times in life I've come across some form of game where there are 2 teams, and points are kept. Every now and then, both teams win a round, and tie, and then both teams are awarded the same amount of points.

That drove me crazy every time. Why would you award both teams the same number of points? Neither team is put ahead of the other by doing this. It's inflation, is what it is!

But last night I was talking to Sir Joseph Becar, a truly fascinating young man, should you have the pleasure of meeting him. We were talking about these children's games. I explained to him this game, and told him how that never made sense to me, awarding both teams equal points.

"You have to stop comparing yourself to others, Lara" said Joseph.

"I'm not!" said Lara. "It just seems pointless to me!" (Hah. No pun intended.)

Joe sat and thought about this for a moment. Then he presented me with another scenario. Take this same game. Say that the all time high score for this game was 60 pts. Both teams in your go around were tied at 50, with 20 points on the line for the next round. Both teams win that round. Both teams get 70 points. By doing so, they aren't put ahead of each other at all, but they both beat the all time average.

Oh. Now isn't this interesting here?

He presented that instead of comparing ourselves to each other, we should compare ourselves to the past, and see how far we've come.

Then I applied it to life. Because I do that with everything. Like dinosaurs.

Say there are two powerful companies working towards... making... the thing that is better than sliced bread. They want to get that before the other company does. They want to be the one who did that. They are competing against each other. Comparing themselves to each other. And in doing so, they succeed in making the next best thing.

At the same time as each other.

However, it doesn't matter that they weren't better than the other person. What matters is that something awesome was made. Something better. Individually they became better, even if they didn't become better than each other. They just became better than their previous selves.

Does this make sense?

But I concluded that were it not for competing against each other, if there was no one there for them to compete with, they would feel no urgency to make this awesome whatever.

This is becoming long winded. But let me apply this once more, to chutes and ladders.

Another thing that Sam talked about (Sam is another name for Joseph) was how in chutes and ladders, you get no pleasure out of beating someone who just slid down that huge slide. They lost by a land.... wait for it... slide.... hah. There's little interest in winning so full out. What people want is competition. They want the game to be close. That's why when the U plays some crappy school, the tickets don't sell because there's no interest in watching someone win so full out.

Unless you win by 54-10, then it's just hilarious.

Those are my thoughts on Child's Play.

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