I have a terrible habit when it comes to gaming. I genuinely think I’m a good at playing games. This is just not true.

Time after time I find myself playing some video game that requires skill or strategy to progress through to the finish. Quite often I find myself losing a round, a turn, or missing some experience points based on the game mechanics. Struggling to overcome the situation I become frustrated. I become frustrated enough to quit, uninstall, and walk away.

A few months later I’ll try again on the same difficulty settings with some minor tweak. Most of the time I end up in the same situation as I found myself in months prior. Rarely, do I ever think to research how to win.

I struggle to allow myself to play on “Easy” or “Casual” modes. After all, I have logged thousands upon thousands of hours in various games. As a veteran gamer, It would be embarrassing to admit I’m just not good enough to play any game on “normal”. Eventually, I either give in (setting the game to “easy”) or give up entirely.

We all do this and others notice

Outside of gaming I’ve noticed that I go through the same process of discovery in other areas of my life. I’ll start on a work project just to find that I’m not getting the help I need or not feeling confident. I then proceed to set the project down and walk away. When the project is picked back up, I’ll go through the same process. Eventually, I either give up entirely or I’ll let someone else take the reins.

I can sense the defensiveness in other’s voices when they have to lead a project that’s not going swimmingly. The pressure to perform, to know exactly the correct course of action, falls to them to figure things out. Unlike a video game there is not a reset button. Unlike a video game “game over” means people’s jobs, their livelihoods.

More importantly, the threat of losing face is always looming.

When I notice a project falls to the wayside, I know. I know they couldn’t handle the pressure. They couldn’t strategize the next steps. They failed to prioritize their work into meaningful outcomes. I can tell they want the project to fall silently behind without anyone noticing.

I notice.

As a result, the very thing they fear comes true. Like a dwarf grudge-bearer, I remember their failures. I remember what they said and how they acted when the going was getting tough.


This year I changed how I play games. I ask myself, “am I having fun?”. If “yes”, then I know I can turn down the difficulty and carry on having fun. If the answer is “no”, I give myself permission to quit the game permanently.

As for other realms of life, I’ve learned to give myself and others a touch of grace. I’ve also learned to give them support. If there’s a project that’s failing to meet expectations, instead of holding a grudge I ask them if they need any help.

I’ll ask them if they need help until I’m blue in the face. Most of the time people ignore the offer. I can’t blame them though as we often struggle to find what kind of help we need when we need it. Even then, admitting we can’t handle the difficulty feels like undermining all the work we’ve done to get this far.

After all, we have all logged thousands of hours of life. Seldom do any of us get to choose the difficulty setting.


I now this post is filled with vague generalities. Maybe I’m speaking to myself more than anyone else in particular, but there are a ton of ideas I wanted to express to certain people without the confidence to tell it to their face.

  • Give yourself some credit, but consider asking for help
  • Don’t hold too fast to others’ failures.
  • Offer to help when you can. Intervene when you must.

Above all else, recognize that not everything you try will end in success. Allow yourself the freedom to fail when you can. This is a privilege I hope we can all learn to exercise when possible.

I hope you found something to add to your everyday rhetoric repertoire. As always, thank you for reading.