Ep. 225: Eric Siu – How to constantly level up

Gamify Your Life and Your Business

When you think about your life and business as if they were games, you’re going to have more fun.

If you’re not familiar, gamification is taking the elements of any basic game like points, rules, competition, rewards, teams, etc., and applying them to another activity. The purpose of gamification is to make something fun.

This week’s Stay Paid guest, Eric Siu, uses the principles of gamification that he explains in his new book,  Leveling Up: How to Master the Game of Life, to teach readers how to reframe their thinking about unpleasant, disappointing, tedious, difficult, or otherwise painful situations, and use them much like gamers collect and use “power-ups” in a video game to strengthen their avatar and overcome obstacles.

Here’s a simple example . . .

Gamification applied to life

Long before Nick Pelling, a British-born computer programmer and inventor, coined the word gamification in 2002, I was well-acquainted with the concept and an expert in its application.

When I was a kid, gamification helped me endure long car trips whenever my parents wanted to take a ride “into the country.”

During these trips, my sister and I would play “pididdle.” We would sit in the back seat of the family’s 1978 Ford Country Squire station wagon with the wood side panels and earnestly look out the windows. We’d watch for cars, hoping to spot a vehicle with only one working headlight. When either of us saw a ticket-waiting-to-happen, the rule was to shout “PIDIDDLE” . . . and then punch the other one in the arm.

1978 Ford Country Squire station wagon with wood side panels

It was our way of turning tedious, long car trips that took us away from our friends into a game that made these trips more enjoyable (if not less painful).

Of course, the situations Siu addresses in his book are more consequential than a couple of disgruntled kids enduring a long car ride, but the lesson is the same. Rather than succumb to negative experiences and dwell on everything that is bad, Siu wants you to reframe how you perceive adversity and use it as a source of strength that will help you to keep going, improve, adapt, and eventually succeed.

Reframing negative thoughts into more positive ones and applying skills that gaming can teach—like being able to adapt, developing resiliency, working as a team, and communicating clearly—are invaluable to building a successful business and productive life.

In fact, during his interview, Siu says that being constantly able to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones is what distinguishes successful people from those who stop short of success.

Gamification applied to business

As the interview continued, Luke spoke of making calls and the pressure sales professionals feel to close a sale.

He saw a parallel between playing the game and the process a salesperson goes through to close a deal. Instead of focusing on the process, salespeople focus on the win, and when they don’t win they think they’ve lost the game. They experience self-doubt and wonder what they’ve done wrong. Some will go so far as to quit.

A line of three electric city busesThe same is true for entrepreneurs. Doubt creeps in. They start to try all sorts of new things, rather than sticking with the process and being committed to the long-term game. (Remember it can take two, three, maybe five years for a business to get traction.) And when nothing works, they quit. Siu describes this tendency to jump from one thing to the other in this way: If you stay at a bus stop, you’ll eventually catch a bus. But if you keep moving from stop to stop, you’ll miss every bus that goes by.

Marketing, building a business, growing a team, developing loyalty among clients—these are all long-term games, and they should be thought of as such. The hiccups along the way can be thought of as things gone wrong, or they can be reframed and thought of as power-ups from which we learn, improve, and grow.

Key Points

  • Gaming can teach you several critical business skills: resilience, communication, and teamwork. It also helps you to think about the habits and mental models in your life as power-ups that give you strength for life.
  • The idea of “the infinite game” encourages you to think about the long-term rather than the short-term, which only encourages you to jump from one strategy to another. Instead, be patient and persistent. Think about earning profits in the long-term, building a long-term culture, nurturing long-term clients, and delaying gratification.
  • It’s to your benefit to reframe how you think about adversity, disappointment, and losing. Rather than getting stuck in the pain, embrace it and use it as fuel for the strength to keep going. It’s this mindset that differentiates successful people from those who give up.

Action Item

In the coming week, practice embracing whatever in your life is negative and reframing it into something that is more positive. Use the positivity to motivate you to improve, to keep going, and to build something long-term.

Connect | Resources

You can find Eric’s book at LevelingUp.com

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