Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Can Video Games Elevate Your Life?

Unless you’ve been under a rock or completely unconscious, you know how popular games and the gaming industry has become over the last 10 years. A multi-billion dollar industry, gaming, has impacted everything from foreign policy to the sports world. The impact on games and training in the military has even changed the way we fight wars. And if you have children, you know what it does to kids whenever they are sent to their rooms to clean. The reality is, even if you don’t like them, video games have come and aren’t going anywhere.
To be honest, I haven’t regularly played video games since the days of Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers. Considered high tech for its time, games have moved into more futuristic formats. We are talking about movement simulators, sensors that detect body gestures and with the introduction of Wii, you don’t even need wires or connectors. I was one of those adults who swore that games were a waste of time and I had more important life missions than sitting on a couch wasting my time. What I found the other day was another perspective from a true ‘gamer’ on what I could learn if I took the time. Here’s how my obsessed gaming friend schooled me:
  • Games teach us about rules:  Everything in our life has a set of standards, rules if you will. These rules govern the basic platform of performance. The cool thing about games is that after you successfully conquer the beginner’s rules, you are than ready to take on the larger challenge of figuring out how to bypass them. Everyone wants to conquer something. The problem is we start from square one seeking to change the game before we have mastered the rules. Whether you are in advertisement, management or government, you can re-write the game, but first you must master the rules.
  • Games teach us about the ladder of success:  Everyone in the gaming world talks about the levels they are able to attain. If you are on FaceBook you hear people brag about where they currently are on Candy Crush. The moral of the story is you are not successful until you climb the proverbial ladder to the next level. Sound familiar? Sales are about getting to the next level. Relationships are about getting to the next level. Everything you want out of life is outside of your current comfort zone, or level. Gaming teaches that being satisfied with where you are is a self delusion when there is so much more to available.
  • Games teach us that keeping score is still important:  Somewhere along the way we stopped valuing the score. I am not saying it is the only thing that matters, but let’s be real…it is important. I grew up in a time where everyone didn’t get a trophy for ‘participating’. Nowadays kids get stickers and such just for showing up. Then when they leave school and join the work force, they have a rude awakening. I think score keeping shows us our potential, leads to our motivation and celebrates those who put forth the effort to train. What would Sundays be like if football scores were not given? Who won? What is the team’s record? Exactly! We need scores to govern our efforts.

With a house full of kids, my mornings usually started off with me confiscating all electronic devices so that we could get out, off to school and work before noon. I would find them hiding in closets or the bathroom just to sneak five more minutes with their precious games. I thought they were addicted, but turns out they may have been learning some valuable life skills too. Either way, my buddy who is an avid gamer has shed some light on the subject for me. 
See ya at the top!
Early Jackson

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Life Lessons From The Wiz

This past weekend marked the end of another summer and the introduction back to a busier, more full schedule. So I did what many others did, I took full advantage of the last quiet days to lie around and relax. With no major family commitments on hand, I was looking forward to a well deserved couch and complete with television time. As I scanned the stations, I caught the beginning of one of my childhood favorites, The Wiz.  I decided that Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Richard Pryor along with other icons would be a great way to spend my afternoon. As I got into the storyline, out of nowhere light bulbs began going off. For the first time I saw some valuable life lessons that can be applied immediately. 

Introduced by Motown Productions and Universal Pictures in 1978, The Wiz received critical acclaim across all ethnicities and audiences. In fact, it was nominated for four Academy Awards the following year. We have all seen it, sang to it and even got up and 'eased on down the road' with it. What's not to love about a film depicting redemption, networking and personal development?  Each character seemed to have their own story and set of challenges; one by one they connected together and formed an allegiance to see each other get better. I noticed some really cool things about life through watching for the 100th time.

·         Despite what others say, you CAN win: One of the standout numbers of the whole film has Michael Jackson center stage. But oddly enough, it wasn't his smooth moves getting the attention, but his impeccable vocals. The Scarecrow scene has the old 'crows' yapping and constantly reminding him that no matter what happens, he could never win. That is a powerful statement because it is all encompassing. You can't win in your finances, your life or even relationships. You are dammed in a sense. But what Dorothy proved was that anyone can in fact win with the right support system in place. Whoever said words don't hurt lied. They not only hurt but can leave scars. Real friends are those who pick you up and never use the old scars from words to hurt you again.

·         Don't nobody bring me no bad news: One scene that always got me as a kid was captured at Evillene's Sweat Shop with her belting out she preferred no one to bring her 'no bad news'! Mabel King coined her southern vernacular long before internet sensation Sweet Brown with her saying "Ain't nobody got time for that." Now I am fully aware that Evillene is a bad character, but you've got to admit that her message is pretty good. She says she wants to be surrounded by people who have learned the rules, she demands positivity in her ear twenty four seven! This is not an option. Think about it, if you put a demand on your circle of influence to keep gossip, bad opinions and other such trash out of your conversations, imagine how free you will become.

·         Ease on down the road: Probably the hallmark number from the movie, 'Ease on Down The Road' has worked its way onto thousands of productions from Broadway to Hollywood and countless school plays. Easily one of my family's favorites; it gets you in a good old churchy mood. I can picture Dorothy and Scarecrow freeing themselves through vibrant dance as they hurry to Emerald City. What's amazing is this song is counted four times throughout the movie, once each time a new partner was added. This speaks volumes because expanding your circle and vision should be welcomed with encouragement. Only add people who are going to fall into the vision of the group and be willing to speak encouraging words to everyone. No room for haters here! We refuse to carry anything that might be a load, let's ease on down the road.

You would most likely fry your brain trying to count the number of times you've caught The Wiz as you scanned the channels and found yourself watching it until the end. To this day, I have awesome memories of sitting next to my mom and watching the whole movie without once getting up for a bathroom break. I would dare say if you are anything like my wife, you actually own a couple of copies on both video cassette, DVD and the Soundtrack on CD. It just represents good wholesome fun. But what I found out over the weekend was it actually held a little bit more. There are lessons all around us, but that day I am glad it came in the form of a musical.

See you at the TOP!

Early Jackson

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Thought Leader?

On December the 16th, 1903 Orville Wright was quoted by a close friend of the family who assisted with the assembling of their ‘Flying Machine’ as saying, “If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance.” Not even twenty four hours later the pair of ambitious brothers would walk up a hill in Kitty Hawk North Carolina and set history. From their pet project the world of aeronautics was forged. December 17th, 1903 will stand as the birth date of modern flight.
What’s interesting is not that they succeeded, but that no one from the press or government was there to see it firsthand. Why? Because the Wright brothers were thought leaders in their generation. They had no publicity, no financial backing and no allies. The world had its eyes fixed on Dr. Samuel Langley of the Smithsonian Institute. This just further proves that you don’t always need a crowd to cheer you on when you are operating in your purpose. Orville and Wilbur were fully convinced that their lives would leave a legacy of greatness. And they were right beyond their wildest dreams.
So the question remains; What do you feel you’re here to do? Before you answer, let me remind you of the cost that is associated with emerging as a thought leader. First, you will have to become comfortable with doing things alone. The Wright brothers had tons of people excited about their ideas but they did not choose to stick it out until the end. Next, you had better develop some tough skin. People are going to ridicule and attempt to deflate your dreams. In fact, it is this very thing that confirms you are heading in the right direction.

Here are some keys signs that you are a thought leader:

  • You always seem to be thinking on the cutting edge: I’ve heard it said that “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room!” I absolutely love that! Life requires us to be fearless and sometimes jump and grow wings on the way down. Where ever you feel you belong in life, I am willing to bet it is on the outside of your little comfort zone. Thought leaders are willing to push the boundaries and limits life tries to put on them.
  • You have a gift to solve a specific problem: Here is life in a nutshell; you will either be remembered for the problems you solved or the ones you created. That’s it! What drives our economy and even perceived value is the elimination of a problem. We get a haircut because we have a ‘hair’ problem, we buy food because we have a ‘hunger’ problem. Thought leaders are slowly discovering the fact that they are gifted for certain issues.
  • You empower others to greatness: When you say you are going to help someone that is much different than empowering them. Help always gives the implication of deficiency. Empowerment says a person already has greatness, you are simply making them aware of the ‘ON’ switch. Empowerment is about activating what is available in every human being. Thought leaders don’t create followers, they launch leaders.
It’s been about 110 years since the Wright brothers launched a flying machine risking life and limb for the sake of science. The crazy thing was they weren’t even inventors. They were working in their families bicycle shop. But when there is innovation in your heart, you find a way to manifest it. Being a thought leader takes plenty of courage. I believe there is thought leadership in us all and we have waited long enough. The world should not be deprived another second from the brilliance you and I possess. This is a call for all thought leaders to ARISE.
See ya at the top!
Early Jackson