Like a lot of kids, I played a fair amount of video games when I was younger-
Then sometime in my mid to late teens, I just stopped playing. No longer would I go into games stores to check out the new releases. Like sure, I was happy to play together with friends or against one another, but that was it. There were other demands on my time, and I no longer saw the point in playing by myself for hours…
Skip forward to my first full year in business, and an old flatmate of mine gets a copy of the Playstation game Lego: Pirates Of The Caribbean. He begins playing it by himself, while I tend to whatever takes up my time of a particular evening. Then, after just a couple of days, he says I should join him in 2 player mode. At first I figure he’s just being friendly, but he persists in trying to convince me to join him in this quest.
In the end, I figure there’s nothing to lose. Maybe this game won’t really be my thing, or I might actually enjoy it? So I sit down on the couch, pick up the free controller and press that ‘Start’ button…
Now the basic premise of the game (for those who don’t know) is that it follows the storyline of Disney’s hugely successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise- except the characters are all in Lego form. The aim of the game is to explore the islands, caves and ships while doing battle with pirates, monsters and all kinds of characters, collecting treasure and acquiring new characters.
In a short space of time, I was hooked…
Rugged up from the bleak winter nights outside, we’d fire up the game and embark on missions, ad new characters to our list of available players and use their unique skills to pass challenging levels, unlock special stages and accumulate treasure, on our lengthy quest to complete the game.
Now one feature of this game increased the value of all the coins and the treasure you collected. For a certain price, you could unlock a special feature that ensured all the treasure and coins you picked up increased by the incremented value. So for instance, if you activated Treasure x2, everything you collected from there on would be worth double the amount.
Early on in the game, we came upon a chest that would enable us to activate Treasure x 3. We could afford to unlock it, too! I suggested we unlock this feature, but my friend wasn’t keen…
Reason being, he’d seen a chest that would unlock Treasure x10.
But just one thing: the cost to unlock it was astronomical- far greater than our booty to that point. Saying that…if we went back through all the stages we’d completed and searched for more hidden treasure, plus took the time to unlock new secret stages throughout our journey, we could unlock that Treasure x10 in the long run…
“Ok, let’s do it then”, I said…
So what followed were many nights of frustration, having to backtrack. Feeling as if we were going around in circles, meticulously searching for more coins and treasure items to ad to our booty- all so we could afford to unlock Treasure x10. On a few occasions we both sat there, dumbfounded: Where could more treasure possibly be lurking in this game? It felt like we’d searched every corner already!
Yet all the same, on we pressed…
By trial and error (and error, and error, and more error), we found hidden treasure that often would’ve been impossible to discover without unlocking new characters who had that one special tool, weapon, size/ weight/ height advantage or skillset that made it achievable. It was ingenious how the game developers had designed it like that. And after countless hours, countless nights- at last, we’d acquired enough currency to unlock our eagerly-awaited prize. We returned to the vaunted treasure chest and finally, unlocked Treasure x10.
After briefly celebrating this long-awaited milestone, on we pushed. We had just one mission now: to clock the entire game. With Treasure x10 activated, the difference was unbelievable! The number indicating our wealth at the top of the screen blurred every time we collected more coins- 10’s of thousands, 100’s of thousands- millions- in next to no time at all. All that time we’d spent tediously retracing our steps, backtracking through every level of the game and every part of the island felt so insignificant compared to now, as we effortlessly racked up the kind of fortune that left me dearly wishing I could transfer it into my bank account!
In hindsight, I was so glad we took the time to fight and save for Treasure x10. It well and truly proved to be worth the struggle.
At this point, I had something of a revelation:
Much like life, here was an example of patience, persistence and long-term thinking being rewarded.
Of ignoring the short-term fix and instant gratification for the long-term payoff.
Of putting up with dejection, frustration and feeling like progress was happening at a snails’ pace, in order to (now) be racing, jumping and diving through levels, hauling in a fortune virtually every time the screen changed.
Sure, Treasure x3 was available to us fairly early on and was relatively easy to enjoy. But the payout from that wouldn’t have been even half as satisfying as what we enjoyed from Treasure x10!
We clocked that game long ago now. Watching the credits roll, the end felt oddly disappointing for my old flatmate and I. There were no more levels to beat. No more monsters, pirates or skeletons to defeat. No more special stages left to discover and explore. No more characters to collect- be it skeleton Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard or an obscure henchman of Davey Jones. Completing the game signified the closure of a small window in time that lasted just a couple of months in the middle of winter. Yet the lesson I learned while playing that game stays with me to this day…
Like anybody else, there are times I feel weary about my current situation in some form or another. There are easier destinations out there and I could go down that path instead (as I talk about here: What Paul Kelly Teaches Us About Success).
But then I think of the short-term fixes and compare them to the rewards that come with working away steadily, being persistent and keeping my eyes on bigger prizes.
I think “Well, I could take that path and activate Treasure x3 or Treasure x5 now…or I can keep on going here and aim for Treasure times TEN. Just flashing back to Lego Pirates and the feeling of power and satisfaction as our characters ran about, racking up millions after toiling away for weeks on end…it puts the present back into sharp focus for me, I breathe a little easier again- and I keep on going.
It reminds me again that patience truly is a virtue…especially if (like me) you’re driven to find all kinds of treasure that’s waiting to be discovered in life if you put yourself to it.
Who’d have guessed kind of revelation would come from sitting down to play a video game featuring Lego characters? Not me…
The Path Ahead
There are plenty of people out there who (for one reason or another) settle for Treasure x2 or Treasure x6. They enjoy the fruits for a while…but then are left wondering what might have been?
Now I don’t know exactly what your version of Treasure x10 is- but I do know that should the day come where you find your Treasure x10 and unlock it, you’re going to fully enjoy those rewards and have a new level of respect for the kind of person you became on that journey. I talk more about that journey, here: Preparing To Fight Taught Me THESE 3 Unexpected Things:
Besides the prize you aim for, the reward of this journey is being able to look in the mirror and recognise a person who endures. A person who doesn’t give up. A person willing to learn. A person patient and disciplined enough to avoid the short-term perks because they’re committed to seeking that much greater reward ahead.
So, in parting?