It's all a game.

Super MarioHow would your behavior change around your big projects, your business, or your life if you were to treat it as a game? As an adventure? As the privilege of a lifetime? Thought-leaders like Yu-kai Chou have been discussing "gamification" for years. It's a perspective shift and a design process; a way to keep ourselves engaged, have fun, and stay motivated as we "uplevel" — remembering that every level has it's unique dragons, challenges and objectives.

From Yu-kai:

"Gamification is the craft of deriving all the fun and addicting elements found in games and applying them to real-world or productive activities. This is what I call 'Human-Focused Design' as opposed to the 'Function-Focused Design.' It’s a design process that optimizes for the human in the system, as opposed to pure efficiency of the system." —Yu-kai Chou, What is Gamification?

When we focus too much on efficiency, we lose the humanity of our work.

Am I doing enough? Answering enough emails, and fast enough? Spinning my hamster wheel of reactivity enough?


Oh, the Drama!

Seth Godin recently talked about how many of us dramatize our work.

"THIS IS LIFE OR DEATH!!" we say to ourselves as we scurry about checking items off our to-do list, blood pressure and stress skyrocketing in the process.

Sometimes the drama is good, it's part of the game. But sometimes it's totally fabricated and unnecessary — and addicting: those drama brain cells will only deepen their grooves in your neural pathways.

For the Love of the Game

Adam, who designed this gorgeous website, recently moved to New York to attend Parsons' Design Business Masters program. We often talk about these ideas while walking through New York City, practicing handstands in the park, or over pizza or meatballs. When one gets stressed, the other gives an important variation of this reminder:

None of this really matters in the end. We're all going to die at some point. So why not remember to have fun with whatever it is that we're doing? Why not seek meaning in the process, not just the end results?

I can write a book. Maybe I'll get a book deal for it (maybe not). But ultimately, the book that you might hold in your hands someday is just the icing on the creative cake. The joy is in the baking. The two years of slogging, wrestling, and self-doubting big ideas to the ground.

How is this the perfect lesson at the perfect time?

Stress is a call to uplevel in some area of your life.

We — any of you reading this blog — likely have our basic needs of food, shelter and clothing covered.

Thus, the adventure of tackling your business, your big idea, or your to-do list is truly the privilege of a lifetime. A game worth playing.

We humans are wired to create. We are walking archetypes for adventure (and the accompanying adversity that goes with it). We would be bored to tears without it.

I'd love to hear from you in the comments:

In what areas could you shift your perspective and "gamify" your life? How is your stress or anxiety asking you to "uplevel" in some area?