Entrepreneurs Have Lessons From Playing Video Games

Most of the popular video games most people grew up playing:  Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Legend of Zelda, and even Grand Theft Auto; all allowed you to attempt to achieve a goal and build expertise through repetitive failure until you advance.

What made this form of failure a form of perceived success, was that you failed upwards. That is,  you practice by exploring and failing, mostly in the form of death or a “lost life,” and you emerge wiser and slightly closer to defeating the level and getting to your goal.

For some, playing video games was a very personal challenge. Most of the games had single player levels. You could practice a video game without any external interference or judgment. Unlike sports, where your level of achievement is relative to the people you are playing against (and with), video games were a challenge of self vs. computer — and ultimately a challenge of self vs. self. This allowed for the ultimate level of failure acceptance due to the lack of social pressure or competition involved in the usual externalities of a public failure.

If you ask any entrepreneur how important the ability to fail is in building a company or product, most will tell you it is paramount. To succeed as an entrepreneur, one must fail forward — only through testing, building and scrapping can true product market fit and success be achieved. You have to be fearless. You have to accept failure, embrace it, turn it around and transform it into success. Without failure nothing happens.

For things to be interesting, in video games or in business, there has to be a balance of failure as a setback vs. failure as an endpoint. In video games, failure usually means that you are given another opportunity from a restarting point to try again. This time however, you are armed with knowledge of how not to go about achieving a set goal – allowing the player to make smarter, more informed decisions.

It is never too late to take a hard look at what happens when you fail as an entrepreneur — the next time you hit the same course, you are better equipped to get yourself to the next checkpoint or milestone before it is time to fail again.

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