Everything is a game. Here’s the best way to learn how to play.

Last night was game night at our house. We played a card game that my children had never played before. To begin, I read them the instructions on how to play the game, how the game is scored, and how to win. After reading the last of the instructions, I looked up to find my kids staring at me as if I had just read them the instructions in gibberish. Or Swahili. Or Swahili gibberish. Which is extra hard for native English speakers to understand.

I’ve seen that look before. In fact, it feels as if I’ve seen that WTF-ish look every time I’ve ever played a new game with anyone, ever.

The simple fact is that games are complicated. It’s very difficult to absorb the complexities of a new game as the rules of the game are read to you. And if you take a moment to step back, you quickly realize is that everything in life is a game. Not just sports, or things that Milton Bradley and those good-timing Parker Brothers dreamed up. EVERYTHING is a game. Including:

  • business
  • investing
  • real estate
  • relationship building
  • entrepreneurship
  • test taking
  • sales
  • technology
  • surfing
  • riding a bike
  • coaching
  • cooking
  • gardening
  • driving
  • flying
  • writing
  • art
  • mechanics
  • parenting
  • That thing couples do that turns them into parents

Learn By Playing

To learn a new game you simply have to play it. There is no way around it. You have to learn the rules as you go. You learn through the process of playing. Not by absorbing an overview of the rules of the game before you start.

Far too often we delay playing the most interesting games (entrepreneurship, investing, writing, pickleball) until we have studied it completely. But studying the games of life is largely procrastination. Learn 10% ahead of time, and then start. You’ll learn the rest on the chutes and ladders.

Key Takeaway

You don’t learn how to play the games of life by reading the instructions. You learn by actually playing the games. The details reveal themselves as you go. The games you will play are far too complicated to comprehend through simply reading. So start playing. Clarity will come quickly when you are rubbing against the rules rather than reading them.

It’s your turn.

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Why you should be thankful for your competitors.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a monopoly? I’m not talking about the Parker Brothers board game. I mean a situation where one player, you in this scenario, has exclusive control over the supply of a commodity, product or service.

You could jack your prices sky-high and offer crappy customer service. You could say things like ‘This is how we have always done it.’ And, ‘If you don’t like it, take your business somewhere else!’ #maniacallaugh¬†Because when no one else is trying to steal your cheese, you can run through the maze as slowly as you like.

Thanks, but no thanks.

A monopoly sounds terrible to me. Because without competition there is no game to win. You never have to push yourself to improve. There is no pressure to find the next competitive advantage. And therefore, there can be no great victory.

It is competition that makes business a grand adventure. It is what makes us admire the bold entrepreneur. Because without competition there is no risk (again, not the Hasbro board game).

Michael Dubin

dubin-hidi-01-2017_231531

I recently listened to the How I Built This podcast interview with Michael Dubin, Founder of Dollar Shave Club. When Dubin launched the DSC he had a momentary monopoly on the direct-to-consumer razor model. But he wasn’t the only one in the category for long. Soon major razor brands and upstarts alike started cutting into his space. But Dubin didn’t get mad. He didn’t throw in the shaving towel. Instead, he recognized the great benefit of competition.

‘The presence of competition pushes you to define yourself more specifically. And focuses you on the things that you want to do. And makes you work a little bit harder.’

-Michael Dubin, Founder of Dollar Shave Club

Key Takeaway

Your competitors are a gift. They motivate you. They sharpen you. They offer your team a common enemy. And nothing pulls people together like a common enemy. Except maybe a black hole. Or a tray of nachos.

Competitors make you define your uniqueness. They force you to declare your mission, and what success looks like. So be thankful for those you compete against. They are making you better. And they make your work and your wins more rewarding.