Now that the weather’s a lot better (we broke some cold records this year) I like to take the time to go outside from the office and breathe some air and see the sights. From time to time, I’ll take a walk with my boss and have a chat about the goings on. I also try to have a coffee talk with some old bosses, to see where things are at and bounce some ideas off them. It’s a sort of basic mentoring process when I think about it.
Quick aside. When I started doing this, oh about 10 years ago I guess, this was seen as brown nosing. I get that. The thing is, if you want to move up in the world, you can’t be looking down or sideways, you have to look up. To get to where my boss is, I need to know how they got there. There’s plenty of time for me to get great at the job I’m doing, but at some point I’m going to want to move on. I guess I’m just bad at sitting in one spot for very long. My wife is going through a similar process at her work but she ends up caring a whole lot more than I do about the negative folk. The ones that are comfortable in the job they do, or have aspirations, tend to not really care much or will actively help you out.
Back on track. I tend to be introspective, seeing what I can tweak/improve/focus on to make me better at what I do and more efficient. I hate being inefficient and not knowing something. Drives me bonkers. I think that’s why RPGs fascinate me so much, you have massive control of the outcome with forethought and repetition. One recent walk, I had mentioned how my side of the family is extremely thick headed, in that we don’t let things drop very well. The joke is to tell one of us we can’t do something, just to have us prove that we can. It’s certainly a dangerous trait but with the appropriate controls can be used as an excellent motivator. Heck, I’ve made a career of being told no and finding a way.
Which I think applies to many of life’s problems and people’s attitudes towards them. There’s certainly the adage that men are solution focused when seeing a problem, while women are more empathetic to the sufferer. Yet it’s a special mind set to move from “that can’t be solved” to “hmm, I wonder if this will work”. I think as kids we all are in the 2nd camp. Imagination is everywhere and we have little to no concept of limitations. As we grow older and hit those speed bumps or road blocks, how we deal with those events shapes the rest of our lives.
It isn’t about getting back up when you get knocked down, truly it isn’t. That’s pride more than anything else. It’s about figuring out why you got knocked down in the first place, and then figuring out how to avoid it in the future. Maybe you’re better off staying on the ground, letting the other person think they’ve won and waiting it out. Maybe you’re better off jumping up and taking a swing, or running away. Heck, sometimes it’s about watching someone else get hit to the ground and learning from it.
Recently at work, I’ve been pushing for a particular service to be available to our clients. The owner of that service (or lack thereof) hasn’t been on-side and I’ve had to manage expectations with clients since. Clearly I’m being told no we can’t do it, and clearly I’m saying yes we can. So where the logic applies (we should be doing this for a number of reasons) and the political side does not is the place I’ve landed. There are quite a few swings my way, that are not made in an obvious fashion. I’m a rather practical person and this new method of conflict is a heck of a learning experience. And learning new things is a heck of a rush.
I’ll tie this back into gaming a bit, where the skills I’ve learned to perform a task as separate from those where I learn to work through a problem. Strategy and tactics. There’s a point in gaming where it’s about repetition of a given task, time and time again, with only a few variants. The typical tank & spank of dungeon let’s say. From time to time though, there’s some innovative spin to a problem, where the solution is far from apparent. Adaptability rather than randomness. I find that more comfortable I get with foundational items, the more it becomes second nature, the easier it is for me to try something new. I can always fall back on what I’m good at but a new challenge is rewarding in its own right. It’s that challenge/new spin that keeps me interested in games. It might be hard to find somedays but when you do, there’s a feeling deep inside that only gamers can really appreciate. It’s just interesting to find analogies with the real world.