It is something that we all strive for. We want to improve, be better. We would love to radically improve our lot if we could. That is why we chase the products, the programs, the latest book or fad. We seek the insights that would change the game.
Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we come across a gem, an idea, a method that does truly change the game, that enables us to transcend previous limitations. Many times, we are left dissatisfied, with yet more broken promises and dashed dreams.
Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a marked difference in how I operate. I have felt clearer, more focused, a bit more balanced. I mean it is not perfect, and I still dip in energy and vibration. But all in all, I am able to cycle right back. With this has come new ideas, new ways of engagement and opportunities to pursue.
So I sat down one evening and thought to myself, wait, why do I feel so good? And how can I capture this state or at least the recipe for it so that when I needed it, I could go back to it. Have I possibly found the secret? Is this is actually the way? Do I have an answer for the question – How to break through to the next level?
Perhaps. I think I do, I mean it’s still early to tell. But so far the results look promising. So this is me sharing my epiphany, my recipe. And we’ll see if time is kind to it.
In my opinion, and experience, to level up, to break through to a new level of acting and being, you have to take a three pronged approach – you need an exposure to greatness, you need to maintain and raise your vibration and you need to do the work.
Expose yourself to greatness
Things started to click for me in an interesting way, when I stumbled on a few classes on SkillShare and videos on YouTube. I was introduced to a couple of content creators who are very successful, and also shared their mindset and methods as to how they are able to get so much done and be productive.
And just watching these pieces of content showed me that yes, it was possible to be creatively productive and prolific. That many people had developed hacks, and tactics and put in a great deal of work to make sure that their workflows moved as smoothly as possible, and made it possible for great quality output.
It opened up something in my mind, and so I had a close look, I took some classes, made some notes and implemented them. And that loop has been great – being exposed to what success in the field looks like and learning to mirror that.
We are social creatures. We are heavily influenced by the people we engage with and the content we connect with. They do not just bombard our conscious mind with information but also work on the subconscious to tilt us towards certain things and away from others. Monkey see, Monkey do, is a real thing.
If we expose ourselves to greatness, which means to be able to observe and learn from the best, or at least from those who embody that which we want to be, we are able to learn deeply not just the mechanics of things, but also the nuances, the attitudes, the execution, that feed us all the information we need, consciously and unconsciously to get there ourselves.
And more importantly, they provide us with key proof, that the thing we seek is attainable.
Raise your vibration
Weeks prior to coming to this recipe that I’m sharing now, I realised that I had fallen out of using the law of attraction. Not that I think that I can magically manifest whatever I want out of thin air.
But there is great power in recognising that your mind and your emotional states affect your mood, your energy, what you feel is possible and in turn the action you take, the energy you put behind it and eventually the results you receive.
I typically tend to default towards some level of anxiety. My mental state is usually drawn towards the reality I don’t want to create. How things could go wrong or not work out. So I have started to deliberately hold on to the energy I want, and when it dips, to work to maintain it and pull it back up.
I imagine things working out, I visualise what I desire. It is important to actively hold an expansive and powerful energy within. Rise up above the noise, and see good things happening.
Connect with the things that inspire and uplift you. Pray, meditate, consume high vibration content. In so doing, you will draw in opportunities, connections, audience, open doors, creativity, collaboration, and so forth.
This is will in no way replace doing the work. But it will put you in the right frame of mind to approach it effectively and supercharge your efforts.
Do the work
There’s no substitute for it. You have to do the work.
Do what you know you must do. Take right action. Take the right steps. Because nothing will happen if you don’t move, if you don’t push. Be prepared, be focused, be unrelenting in the pursuit of that which you seek.
It is in the application, in the practical, in the work that the lessons we learn from greatness really sink in. It is in the doing that new insights are gained, that we move from knowing the path to walking it. Here, the learnings become embedded in our bones, in our routines, in our very selves.
But I don’t just mean work work. Although that is a part of it. I also mean The Work. The important stuff. the thing that makes your heart sing. The one that deeply fulfils you. The work that exercises your true gifts, stimulates your true interest.
We might not all be fortunate to do what we are passionate about and make money from it. Many of us have to make money in different ways. But it is important to make space for passion in our lives. To hold space for purpose.
We are all here for more than just to eat, sleep, consume, work and die. We are here to breathe, to love, to dance, to laugh, to cry, to feel, to be. To claim our little speck of existence. To be fully human. And a big part of that is giving our gift, giving our message. Adding our true selves to the tapestry of human existence.
For me, that’s this blog, and all the other spaces I make content. It is my privilege to plumb the depths of the human experiences as it presents itself to me and try to make some sense of it. As I teach, I learn and I grow. It is as much for me as it is for you reading this right now.
And that’s what i believe we all have to find. For each of us, the work is different. Some want to save the planet, we should all try to save the planet. For others, the work is family and relationships. For others still, it is invention. For some, it is to entertain, for others it is to help. Whatever it is. We have to find that work, and do it.
It is in the expression of our full and highest selves that we find deep fulfilment and purpose.
In doing so, in holding these three principles in mind, we can make sure we are receiving the right stimuli, sharpening our minds, habits and perceptions. We are able to hold a strong center, keeping our energies focused and rising to the occasion. We are disciplined in action, and steadily levelling up.
For the past decade I took great pride in my status as a non-gamer. Untouched by the digital fever, I would sneer at my friends as they spend hours lost in a game like Skyrim while real life happened around them.I didn’t understand why you would spend so much time doing something that had little bearing on day-to-day reality.
I wasn’t always like this though. I grew up into games like any kid, playing whichever ones I could get my hands on (often a generation or two behind). I played enough then to satisfy the surface curiosity I had, but not enough to blossom into a full-on passion.
Then there was the game that turned me off from gaming completely…Devil May Cry 3. It was my kind of game, acrobatic slasher with bright colours. But one afternoon after battling some monster over and over again without success, I rage quit. Well it wasn’t in an explosive rage, screaming and throwing my controller at the screen. No, it was calm and collected. I just switched off the console and never played again. It was near the end of the holidays and I was going back to school anyway. I had more pressing matters to deal with than the monsters on the other side of the screen.
After that fateful day, I played games now and again, but never enough to really get into it.
For some reason though, over the past year the inexplicable urge to start playing again was born and kept growing until I succumbed and bought a PS4. And over the past 2 months, I have lost multiple hours at a time barreling down the digital rabbit hole. Playing deep into the night, going on quests with my son to scatter my dead wife’s ashes at the highest peak in the realms, fighting off baddies and mowing down innocent doctors to save my teenage ward from an operation that will kill her, a procedure designed to save humanity. I have discovered rich worlds, morally ambiguous layered narratives and engrossing gameplay.
I have also picked up a few lessons. And just like my last piece on Spider-Man into the Spider-Verse, I am going to stretch some of these lessons we learn from video games onto real life.
First, we start with one you have probably heard before
When you encounter enemies, you are going the right way
Ah, the one that validates the existence of haters. You know them, the people who don’t want you to succeed. The ones that carried your picture to their village witch doctor to make sure you will never progress. The back biters at work, the frenemy, that rude security guard, or the police officer hating on your ability to drive inebriated.
We encounter haters and enemies all the way. No more so than in video games. Completely unprovoked, they will come at you, with weapons, energy blasts, sharp teeth, anything they can use to take you the hero down. They are a staple of the medium.
They are the antagonist to your protagonist.
Want to know if you are going the right way and progressing in the game? You probably are if you keep coming across new enemies to defeat.
Perhaps so in life too. When we take on a new quest or endeavour, we will invariably come up against challenges. Things will go wrong, we will make mistakes, people might even attack and work against us.
Maybe that wave of resistance from the world is a sign that you are on the right track and that you should press on, regardless what the naysayers say.
Or maybe it is a sign that you are just an asshole and no one likes you.
When you find a boon, you are about to enter some shit (also the universe provides)
Another staple of gameplay are the pick ups. Things like health packs, weapons, ammo, equipment, orbs, random junk you can craft tools with. They are usually littered across the environment, allowing you to stand a chance against the perpetual onslaught of haters and enemies.
Most times they are scattered in sparse quantities. A health pack here, a box of ammo there. It gives you just enough to deal with the enemies you encounter providing the right amount of tension as you play.
But every now again, you come into a clearing or a room just chuck full of stuff. Enough health to heal yourself and stock up for later. Copious amounts of ammo to take on your journey. Or if it’s that kind of game, the merchants/blacksmiths magically pop up ready to ply you their wares. (looking at you Brok)
It is tempting to get excited and self satisfied at this point. Don’t. It’s a trap. In the video game world, a boon like this doesn’t come without a cost. There is a boss around the corner. And you are in for the fight of your life.
So…when things are going your way in life and humming along, beware of the possible boss fight headed your way. Stay ready.
Or perhaps look at it this way, whatever challenge you face in life, the universe will provide you the tools to deal with it.
You will fail repeatedly, but you will eventually figure it out
Ah failure. The gamer’s ever present friend. If you playing a game, especially for the first time, you can be sure you will fail a couple of times. It might not be right at the beginning, but it is coming. There’s that first hard wave of enemies coming, or the timed puzzle or challenge that is just gonna have your undies up in a bunch.
The first few times you fail, it will still be a fun. After all, it is you are new to this and you are still learning, figuring out the enemy’s patterns and the environment. You might catch a break and grab a win after a few tries and move on, your heart thumping from the adrenaline. Or you might still find yourself struggling with this level for a while, your frustration bar filling up and clouding all the fun you were having before you got here.
This is the point where you have a crucial decision to make. Will you tough it out or will you quit, or worse…will you decrease the difficulty setting like a witless noob?
The temptation is strong. You have tried everything and been massacred, sent to the ‘Game Over’ screen again and again. You learned the patterns, you kind figured out the moves but it is still not enough. Maybe you even got that bosses’ life bar down to the very end…and they still keep killing you.
But if you keep on long enough and it happens. Finally you hit a break-through and win.
And in the words of Mark Cuban talking about entrepreneurship and getting rich – it doesn’t matter how many times you fail, you only have to be right once.
Now sometimes, this breakthrough never comes. If trying again and again doesn’t work, then take a break. Sleep on it, take a walk, do something else and when you return, you might just be fresh enough to eke out a win.
There are cases though, where repeated tries and breaks won’t work. This is where you have to bring out the big guns. Literally. You have to…
Always be levelling up.
Sometimes what you need isn’t to keep trying, sometimes what you really need is to get better.
I remember the first time I encountered a valkyrie in the new God of War. Oh my, she beat my ass five ways to Sunday for like 3 days straight. And like a masochist, I kept going in for more. It was so frustrating because every time, I was so close. Oh so close. I would get her life bar down to just a smidgen. But invariably, she would parry my frantic final attacks and kill me every single time.
I persevered, I tried again and again and again. No luck.
I slept on it. Took my protein shakes, chugged a flask of coffee, stretched my fingers and got back to it. She still owned me.
So I did the only thing I could do. I consulted the internet.
Turns out it was almost suicide attacking this valkyrie at the power level I was at.
So I left her alone and went to level up.
I played other quests, collected more items, improved my weapons and attacks and returned for battle. it was still a struggle, but after a couple of tries, I emerged victorious, her severed helmet in my hand.
So is life innit?
There is a saying, don’t wish things were easier, wish you were better.
In life, you have to keep levelling up – getting stronger, learning new skills, building alliances, amassing resources and everything you need to win against the big baddies and progress. Always be levelling up.
A game is at its most fun when it is at the right level of challenging. If it is too difficult, it is no fun, and games that are too easy become boring. There is no thrill, if you are able to just mow down enemy after enemy. Eventually you feel like you are just going through the motions.
Good games grow in difficulty as you progress and get better. Sure you have better weapons and health packs stockpiled. but your enemies grow stronger still, keeping you on your toes.
Like they say – new levels, new devils.
Same with life. It is the struggles and challenges we face that make things exciting. They give us things to overcome and that satisfaction after a hard won battle is second to none. All the blood, sweat and blistered thumbs become worth it.
Until the next level, the next skirmish, the next boss.
We might win today, but we will have something to face tomorrow. The game continues.
So in the same way, embrace the struggle of life and relish the challenges. They keep things fun. Face your fears, build your alliances, battle the enemies and celebrate every win as you journey through the great game of life.
See you at the credits…or the DLC.