Playing the Hot and Cold Game with Goals

When you were a kid, did you ever play the following game? You leave the room and your friend hides an object somewhere. You come back in and you try to find the object while your friend gives you feedback. You head towards the sofa and look under the cushions and your friend says, “cold.” You move away from the sofa and head for the coffee table. Now, your friend says, “warmer.” You keep searching around the coffee table and eventually you find it.  In other words, you use the friend’s feedback as information about whether to continue on the path you’re on or whether to change course.  When does the game end?  It ends when you find the object.  Sure, you could give up the search, but most of the time, this doesn’t happen.  It may take a long time to find the object and your path depends on where you begin your search, but most of the time, eventually, you find the object.

I find that if I apply the metaphor of the game to achieving a goal, it changes my thinking about the goal dramatically.  A lot of people have a goal they want to achieve but instead of seeing feedback, they see failure.  They do something and it doesn’t pan out or it doesn’t bring as strong a result as they had hoped for.  This is like the friend saying “cold.”  Instead of seeing the setback as feedback, they see their entire endeavor as a failure.  Other people persist but they persist unwisely. They receive the “cold” feedback and jump right back in and do the very same thing again.  Now, you wouldn’t keep searching the sofa after your friend kept telling you that it’s still cold, would you?  But yet, people do this all the time.  Including me.  The end result is frustration when you begin to feel like you’re beating your head against the wall.  Well, it’s time to stop and instead, it’s time to begin viewing the pursuit of a goal as a game of hot and cold.  Take a step in the direction of achieving your goal.  Now, listen closely to the feedback you get.  Reality will supply you with a good answer if you listen carefully.  Is it a “hot” or a “cold?”  If it’s cold, adjust your next step.  Does the next step give your more positive feedback?  Keep going.  Keep trying a different path or a different approach.

Don’t give up. Keep listening to feedback and adjust your course as necessary, but keep playing the game until you succeed.  There is no failure in this game, only feedback.

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~ by truthcurve on February 19, 2007.

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