Play a different game

There are numerous similarities between your job and a video-game. But a couple of ways in which they differ can be frightening.

We start a video game as amateurs in the first level, learn the controls, figure out the game’s objective and build the skills necessary to achieve them. In the process, we level-up and face bigger challenges. The gameplay keeps getting harder to correspond to our increasing level of competence.

When we’ve done that too often and things get boring, we move onto another game. We also quit if the game has gotten too tough and is way beyond our capability. Nevertheless, in both instances, quitting is entirely voluntary and entails little risk.

Your job isn’t too different. Just like a video game, your company is fictitious – it is not a real entity but one that exists only on paper or in the minds of people. With each skill you learn, you are promoted to a higher level and entrusted with more responsibility.

The analogy runs even deeper. Just as people who have played several games are likely to learn a new game fast, people who are good at switching professional contexts are better able to acquire skills for a new role, or transfer their existing skills.

But here’s the frightening part – in a video game, as we have seen, quitting is voluntary and trivial. With a job though, quitting need not be voluntary and it can have dire consequences.

We are headed for paradigm shifts in the world of work. Most of us need to acquire skills that are different from the ones we have developed all our life. And we would need to do it decade after decade.

In those cases, it is better to quit playing the old games and move on to newer ones voluntarily. Better than having somebody else make that decision.

Inspiration: Mindshift by Barbara Oakley – A book that breaks stereotypes on what is possible for us to learn

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