Question. What do team meeting agendas, pistachio ice cream, business marketing partnerships, exotic cocktails and going to the gym have in common?
Answer. I have chosen all of them by dice in the last two weeks. And in doing so, I’ve made my life an elaborate game.
Choosing by dice is a contradiction of free choice and constraint: free choice because I have the control to decide what the six options of the dice will be. And constraint because I am committed to abiding by the decision of the dice once my two, three or six options are laid out. That final element of the “decision” is out of my hands. It’s like stepping onto a rollercoaster: you know it’ll be fun to look back upon, but you don’t know if it’s going to be fun or terrifying until it gets moving.
But whatever I’ve found, I’ve still managed to feel exhilarated by the rollercoaster – grateful for the gifts of the good and grateful too for the lessons of the bad. I’ve had sleepless nights, spent money I regretted, spent time I regretted and made things harder for myself on occasions. In these moments I’ve largely managed to remain present, stay grateful for the experience and value how much control I really have over my life. Not as much as some people in the world, but certainly more than most.
Yet – and here’s back to the contradiction – there’s something freeing and liberating about it all feeling like a game. Giving up the control means it happens to you rather than because of you. So strap in and enjoy the ride. If it goes wrong, it wasn’t your decision, after all…was it?
Play the Game
And here lies an interesting lesson of the dice: gameification. It’s becoming a fashionable word. You’ll overhear it in digital design studios where the user interface experience of a website or app or digital thing is characterised by prizes, points or motivational moments of winning.
That crappy thing on my to-do list I’m bored with or scared of? Yay! I’m playing a game and that’s the route to the prize. That difficult decision? Don’t fret the small stuff, just put it to the dice and do something more worthwhile. Win!
Children don’t need “gameification”. Because to children, adulthood has yet to cloud their vision of possibility and of winning and every day is about playing. Every day is the game. Yet as adults, we’re told that playing is somehow immature or childish or silly.
What if that were all wrong? What if I told you that the route through your procrastination to uber-productivity was by giving up control and making it ALL a game? And what if, like a child, you could create a game from almost anything, in any moment?
And what if, in this very moment, I handed you the dice and said “It’s your turn?”
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