Four Stages of the Game
Seth Godin says there are four stages to every “game” that we play in life. These are projects and activities in which we are involved. We even use game-like labels for some of these: the dating game, the corporate ladder, the rat race. I’d never before thought of them directly as games that could be played.
- You don’t even realize there’s a game.
- You start getting involved and it feels like a matter of life or death.
- You realize that it’s a game and you play it with strategy.
- You get bored with the game, because you’ve seen it before.
I’ve read Seth’s short article several times and wondered about myself. I’ve started to recognize these stages in the games that I “play” at work and home. Looking back, I see myself mostly in stage two: caring a lot about the outcome and stressing that things aren’t going well.
More recently, I see myself being able to step into stage three at times: not taking things so personally, being willing to change my behavior and conversation to be more effective. Stage three is certainly less stressful.
Occasionally, I’ve hit stage four and moved on. I felt like I’d learned all that I would and lost interest in continuing. Not giving up in frustration. More like losing interest in continuing to do something at which I already excelled.
Mostly, I wish for more than this. I’d love the passion and enthusiasm of stage two with the lower stress of stage three in a game that avoids the boredom of stage four. Marriage and family can be this way. Work has the potential as well, though the nature of corporations seems to work against it at times.