lava monster

I can remember games I played with friends during recess in elementary school…but few compared to the game we called “lava monster.” The premise of the game was realizing that the sand was “lava,” and that only the lava monster could travel in the “lava.” Everyone else being chased by the lava monster was confined to the playground equipment, as they were chased by the lava monster who could be on the sand AND equipment. Needless to say, the best part about the game was being chased. I mean, what 3rd grade kid doesn’t enjoy being chased? Laughter, screaming, a joyous spirit combined with an anxious environment…it was a blast.

I would venture a guess that most of us enjoy being chased. What do I mean by chased? Entertain the idea of jobs and opportunities that you are passionate about calling you, instead of you sending all of them countless résumés and applications to hopefully land an interview. Imagine famous/connected people friend requesting you on facebook, or following you on twitter, and wanting your advice or help with big productions. Imagine Newsweek and Time Magazine flooding your inbox with requests to setup interviews on current culture and world events. Those are things many of us would enjoy, right?

Now, turn the tables back to what is reality for most of us. Place yourself in the role of the chaser.

The most dreaded part about the lava monster game was being caught, and having to take the role of lava monster. Chasing your friends was fun for a while, but after not catching anyone for a few minutes, fun turned into frustration. You may have whined about not being able to catch anyone, or asked if someone else could be the lava monster.

That wasn’t my course of action. I would pick the smallest, weakest, slowest kid…and relentlessly pursue him/her until caught. It meant being chased afterward was not as fun, but I got to win. I got to succeed…from the exploitation of the weakest link, at that. In chasing success, cultural influence and self-desire teach us to take the shortest route necessary to attain that success. It makes sense; none of us want to work as hard as we can all the time for everything we want, right? That shortest route may mean picking the easiest target, and focusing every effort on it…even if that target happens to be other people chasing their own success. There are two things I think we should change about our mindset of success:

1. Treat other people as people, and not a barrier between you and what you think is necessary for success. If we gain anything from the idea of true community, we should gain appreciation for those who have similar struggles and how we can help them. Helping them may help us grow closer to our goals, along with having the addition of a new friend/connection for future endeavors. Also, remember that exploiting others could shatter their plans for something completely. What if you were someone’s target, and your plans were shattered? Don’t conduct yourself in reactionary-based selfishness…extend grace. Especially when it’s far from deserved.

2. Try chasing failure instead of success. You read that right, and no, I didn’t have a badly-prepared Chipotle burrito today. Try chasing the fastest kid on the playground, and stop at nothing to catch him. That doesn’t mean you can step on other people to get there…ask those people for help instead. Tax all of your resources, talents, and opportunities to capture failure…because by the time you do, you’ll have learned so many strategies and aspects of what does work. When you fail, you can look back on what happened…and begin the chase again.

By accepting the most difficult challenges, we receive the greatest rewards. In chasing failure, you actually end up chasing success in progressive, reviewable, and concrete contexts. Never settle. Never stop learning or evaluating yourself. Don’t allow failure to be a hindrance or fear of doing something; instead, transform it into fuel to fire your excitement and passion for everything you do. Man, this topic has spurred my nostalgia. Let’s get a game of lava monster going!

But, you’re it 😉

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