Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve been hearing about Pokemon GO every time you turn around. Chances are, you either love it or hate it – or at least hate hearing about it. Yes, I’ll admit it. I play – mostly because my kids want me to play with them and we all played its predecessor, Ingress. And it was fun and kind of exciting – for a few weeks. I’m pretty much over it at this point, but I realized there are some valuable lessons we can learn from this latest game craze. Stick with me here.
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Let’s start with the biggie – personal responsibility. I couldn’t help but shake my head when watching a news report about a teenager who broke her leg because she got hit by a car when crossing a highway chasing Pokemon. Her mom stated in the video that she blamed the game. Now I’m sorry, but the game did not make this girl walk into traffic. She made a bad decision. Period. The fact is that a lot of people are doing a lot of stupid things playing this game. But the game is not to blame. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this in the professional world - when someone makes mistake after mistake but somehow it’s never their fault. So you made a mistake? Own it! That is how you learn. You may think you’re saving face by pointing your finger at anyone and everyone else – but nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve made countless mistakes in my career. I took responsibility, made it right and moved forward – with the respect of my peers and superiors and the knowledge of what not to do in the future.
The next is that you have to seize every opportunity. One of the big slogans in Pokemon GO is “gotta catch them all!” The idea is to catch any and every Pokemon you come across. At times this can get boring and tedious. For those who don’t play the game, Pidgey is probably the most common and boring Pokemon there is. It can be highly annoying to hear your phone buzz and look to see what Pokemon has just appeared – only to find that it’s a Pidgey. I don’t want another Pidgey! I want a Pikachu! But if I don’t catch all those extra Pidgeys, I’ll never have what I need to evolve Pidgey into something better. The more Pidgeys I catch, the better my Pidgeot will be in the end. The same is true with our careers. It’s important to take advantage of every opportunity that comes our way – even the boring and common ones – to learn as much as we can from them and to perform the best we can at them. If we don’t maximize each opportunity, the next one won’t be as big as it could be.
And finally, you have to have perseverance. One of the fun things in Pokemon GO is hatching eggs. You get these eggs and you have to walk a certain distance for them to hatch so you can see what kind of Pokemon is inside. Sometimes it’s a rare and very cool Pokemon. And sometimes you walk 5km and get all excited as it starts to hatch, and you end up with – you guessed it – a Pidgey! And such is life. Sometimes things just don’t work out. Sometimes we do all the right things, but circumstances beyond our control keep us from achieving our goals. It can be easy to get discouraged and become jaded. I’ve been there and done that. But I realized that nothing would get better if I quit trying. I realized that I can’t always control my circumstances, but I can control my reaction to them. I realized that I could look for positive outcomes in bad situations – and if I kept practicing that, sooner or later things would turn around. And they did.
I know I had a little fun with this article. But in all seriousness, these are three simple but true steps toward a successful career. Seize every opportunity that you’re given and make the most of them. Own the mistakes that you’ll make along the way, and embrace the lessons you’ll learn from them. And don’t ever give up until you achieve your goals. Speaking of goals, I’ll probably keep playing Pokemon GO – at least until I catch that darn Pikachu!