Naval Ravikant said, “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
This sounded a bit harsh and over-dramatic when I first heard it. It took me a while to actually get it.
We often play “stupid” games:
- trying to be the smartest person in the room
- looking really cool on social media
- making as much money as humanly possible
- being on our phone for hours each day
I have coaching clients who have played tons of these games. I’ve played tons of these games.
The question is: What does it look like to win the game you’re playing?
If you climb your way to being the absolute coolest person on Instagram (whatever that means), what would you be able to do with that? What would that mean for your life? What would that fulfill?
If you feed your phone addiction and make sure you never miss a notification, or respond to every email as quickly as possible, what would winning that game look like?
In my experience, the prizes of these games often include being kind of happy for a short time…then going right back to whatever our normal state is. After that, it’s feeling disappointed that this thing didn’t bring us enlightenment.
An even darker example is texting and driving, one of the stupidest games out there. 400 fatal crashes happen each year from driving while using our phones.
But what is ‘winning’ texting and driving? Not having to wait 10 minutes to see what our friend texted us?
In 2020, my mom was completely stopped at a red light waiting for it to change. A young man hit and totaled her car at 50 mph. He was texting.
I always think, I wonder what he was doing on his phone and I wonder if it was worth it? He played a stupid game and won a stupid prize.
So which games bring us awesome prizes?
For me—and I would argue for most of us—it’s all the cliche stuff:
- being a great friend/son/daughter/etc
- getting physically/mentally fit
- improving skills
- being kind and curious
So, what games are you playing?
If you were to win that game, what would that look like? Would it be worth it?