Some of you are old enough to remember the Atari video game system. A far cry from the advanced graphics we see in games today. And only one button!
One of the most popular games was called Space Invaders, which I have featured prominently in this painting. It was a simple concept: you try to shoot as many aliens as you can as they descend down your screen. As the game continues, the aliens descend at an ever increasing speed. If they reach the bottom, the alien invasion is successful and the game ends.
To me, this is a great metaphor for Adultitis, a disease that Kim and I have committed our lives to help defeat. All of you are familiar with this enemy, even if you’re hearing the name for the first time. It’s what happens when you lose your sense of wonder, your curiosity, and your childlike zest for life.
Quite literally, Adultitis means “swelling of the adult.” And when you’re walking around with too much adult, your life is more stressful and less fun.
Although I wish there was a magic potion or miracle cure that ended Adultitis once and for all, there just isn’t. Adultitis is always coming after us, just like those aliens. You can blast down a whole screen by going to Disney World, but on your first day back to work another wave is ready to strike.
The key, I think, is to look at fighting Adultitis as a game. It’s most deadly when it hides in the shadows, convincing you to take yourself too seriously and getting you to focus on the negative.
But if you notice where it tries to sabotage you and laugh at its advances, you can diffuse its power.
Our family has had great fun in acknowledging when Adultitis has gained the upper hand, and we encourage one another to fight back. Extreme cases call for a pajama run or a spontaneous dance party in the kitchen.
My Dad always says, “Everything happens for a reason.”
I make it a game to try to figure out the reason. Anytime something bad happens, I start thinking about what good could come from it. What if you looked at the challenges you face like any other game?
- Instead of looking at making payroll as a life or death situation, make it into a game.
- Instead of worrying about not getting everything done today, make it into a game.
- Instead of stressing out over how you’ll ever be able to conform to the new regulations in your industry, make it into a game.
Instead of acting like your current challenge as something found in the bad-tasting medicine aisle, mentally re-package it in primary colors and take it from the toy section. Breathe. Smile. Have some fun with it. By looking at it as a game and clearing your mind of the useless worst-case-scenarios, you’ll actually be MORE likely to notice the people, opportunities and ideas you’ll need to win.
You may believe that the stakes are much higher now compared to a silly game of Space Invaders. But are they really? With VERY few exceptions, the truth is that our fear of failure is worse than the consequences that come from actually failing. Sure, the project very well might flop, your efforts might go to waste, or someone may laugh at you. You could get rejected, dejected, or fired.
Sometimes, like the aliens, Adultitis advances past your defenses and wins the day.
But you know what? The good news is that you can hit reset and start again. Life WILL go on. It’ll be ok. You’ll be able to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get ready for the new — even better! — opportunity right around the corner.
Are you game?