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Role 3d6 for Personal Development

Role 3d6 for Personal Development

Any oldschool Dungeons and Dragons readers get that reference? If not, here’s my basic premise: view your personal development like you would character development in role playing games.

  • Capabilities- Some things you are born with, and others can be trained. For instance, strength can be developed to certain end points, but intelligence is something that one possesses a certain degree of, regardless of training. Training becomes more of a skill or toolset, taking advantage of your baseline intelligence. (Do we agree, or do you dispute my characterization of intelligence? – If you disagree, skip it and come back later). Other capabilities can be grown somewhat, like developing your endurance, etc.
  • Skills- Skills are things you learn, such as communication, interpersonal relationship tactics, how to build a LAMP stack repeatably. Skills are an area where you can focus a lot of effort, because they often have a direct reward for advancing your abilities. Learning a second language adds to your potential revenue value. Learning how to appreciate and interact with your family builds emotional strength and good will. Skills are a great area to target.
  • Equipment- Another constant in most role playing games (from paper and card-based games up into World of Warcraft) is the trusty old inventory concept. Do you have armor? Do you have a sword or a dagger? Would a lockpick be useful to you? Stretching this analogy out into personal development, equipment can become: laptops and smart phones for portability, special software to handle scheduling, budget, repeatable tasks, a portable media player to receive learning and information (like the Life Hack podcast).

What if you took your current situation and put it down on paper as if you were a character in a somewhat boring role-playing game? (Let’s face it: Office Wars isn’t a likely replacement title for City of Heroes). How would you characterize your capabilities? Are there any you should consider developing? What skills do you possess? What kind of equipment do you have to do the work at hand?

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When you have it all written down, take a look at it. What kind of character are you? How do you stack up against other people in the same game? What capabilities, skills, or equipment could you further develop to build your success rates with your current game?
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Write down a list of different “games” that you’d want to consider playing. Maybe you’re in software design, but believe you want to start up a company. Does your “character sheet” match the game? What skills should you add? How about in the crossover game of work-life balance? Do you have the skills required to make that all work?

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Use this new list matched to your existing list as a framework for development. Do you need some basic business skills to augment your career track as a software developer? Would learning about financial models help you manage your new team of colleagues in Vietnam, Bangalore, and Oklahoma?

Viewing your statistics as if they belong to a character in a game is a way to try and expand our vision of the situation we’re in. It gives you a sense of your world in a somewhat more manageable shape. From here, you might be able to consider permutations and variations. You can consider whether your French language classes, while interesting, are relating in any way to the things you need to better navigate your life and your career.

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Does this work for you? Should I roll a saving throw versus “bad analogy taken too far?” Choose your own adventure.

–Chris Brogan used to be a dungeon master. In ways, his project management career mimicked that experience. Now, he writes at [chrisbrogan.com] and develops content at GrasshopperFactory.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2020

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

4. Be Who You Are

It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

5. Slow Down and Let Go

Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

Final Thoughts

What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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