Single Player Mindset

Winning Despite, Not Because Of

Sometimes the world doesn’t work the way we would like it to work. We might call it “Unfair” or unjust, but stuff happens. When we don’t like what happens, we either Accept it (by changing our expectations of what happens) or Reject it (by changing what ends up happening). As a Single Player, a lot of the time I find myself having to play in a multiplayer world where I have less control over what happens. Instead of situations where my clear go-to decision would be to Reject what happens, there are other considerations that must be accounted for when more players are involved. It is hard enough to play for myself as a Single Player, but also playing with and/or for others?

This type of situation, where we see something we don’t want to happen but allow it to happen because others might accept it (either deliberately or by not caring), can lead to conflict. Why do we have to put up with this? Why can’t we all just reject it? Why do we have to sacrifice something for something else that’s not even better?

Even after we self-reflect, asking ourselves if we are correct in our beliefs, checking our thought processes and seeing if we are messing up somewhere, searching for a potential hidden truth that we might have missed. Do they know something I don’t know? Why do I believe what I believe? How did I make this conclusion? And how did I conclude this with as much confidence as I have? Even after we self-reflect, honestly, in deference to the real, actual, lawful, Simple TruthEven after all of this, and we still would decide to Reject what happens, but have to Accept what happens because of others around us.

Cue negativity: resentment, jealousy, distrust, hate.

What do we do with this negativity? How do we handle it? Do we transform it into positivity, a working force to strive to be even better? Or do we embrace it, purport it, promote it, reflect it, so that we generate more negativity?

Consider Kobe Bryant, professional basketball player, will most probably be referred to as a generation-defining player. A superstar attracting both fans and haters on and off the court. Kobe, self-professed contributor to his own hate. Why? He fed off that negativity. Fueled by hate of teammates, opponents, fans, and media. Says he wouldn’t have it any other way, that was what drove him to greater heights. Is this him lying to himself? Rationalization? Regardless, it’s what he chose, what he did, and part of his story, why he is great now and will be remembered as one of the all-time greats.

Consider Dansgaming, professional streamer, feeding off jealousy

@Dansgaming: #Jealousy you’re going to feel it on Twitch, it’ll never be gone completely. it’s normal, let it motivate you to be better not to hate. (tweet from 2016)

Would he really not have had it any other way? If he could choose jealousy or not jealousy, would there really be consideration? Would he still have been great if circumstances were different? Would Dan still be the Twitch icon he is today, without the satire and sarcasm, without the rage and self-rekts?

Consider Darth Vader, professional Sith Lord, proponent of the Dark SideHe had cared too much, so much so that it exposed him to resentment, jealousy, distrust, and hate. These negative emotions ended up fueling him, driving him, acting as negative energy that actually gave him some pretty cool powers. Does that necessarily make him bad? Why is he a villain? If we consider his circumstances, doesn’t he become more relatable?

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. But sometimes, we contribute to our own almost-killing. We are faced with challenges, and we either overcome these challenges, or we falter and fail before them. However, I think that sometimes we contribute to our own struggles. Sometimes, we even create them or exaggerate them. Sometimes, we make our own hurdles just to show ourselves and others that we straddled over those hurdles.

Stepping back, is everyone naturally attracted to the struggle? News segments filled with tragedy. Rubbernecking on the highway. Do we need the negativity? Do we rely on negativity? Or do we act despite the negativity? We may realize that negativity will be there. But do we contribute to it all? I think in the best outcomes, we either transform negativity, or deflect it away from ourselves and others. However, sometimes we are tempted to absorb it or reflect it back.

Consider these example dichotomies:

  • Being an underdog; Staying an underdog
  • Being a victim; Becoming the victim
  • Underpaid and under-compensated; Under-performing and setting minimal goals
  • Raising yourself up; Keeping yourself down
  • Being in Control; Being Controlled
  • Winning; Losing

I think the greater feat is when we Win despite negativity, not because of negativity. Make it clear, to ourselves and to those around us, that there is a difference. Even if in certain situations that difference is subtle, it is imperative that we recognize it. We choose to Win, even when facing Losing conditions. But we must not contribute to that Losing. If we do, and somehow we think we are better off, I am pretty sure we would find out after honest self-reflection, that we are lying to ourselves.

We must choose to Win, first for ourselves, and then for others if we can. And we must carry ourselves towards this Winning despite, not because of, (insert negativity here).

There is No Such Thing as “Unfair”

“Unfair” is a Japanese television drama where one of the catch-copies is “UNFAIR koto nante nani mo nai”, or roughly “There is no such thing as Unfair”. Besides being a clever and catchy phrase, there is more we can take from “Unfair” (it’s also a fun thriller drama!).

The world operates in certain ways, which we may understand as physics or laws or black-box as “magic”. Whether we actually understand how the world operates is a separate issue. If we think the world will behave one way, but the world actually behaves a different way, we can see this as our “map not reflecting the territory”, and we should update our maps accordingly.

We humans are also a part of physics, a part of this world, and to that extension we also can cause things to happen. Often, people point at situations and say, “well that’s unfair for that to happen”, thinking someone shouldn’t be Winning or shouldn’t be Losing. What really is happening, is that the conditions for that event to occur, for that “unfairness” to occur, was caused by something, which was caused by something else, which ultimately may lead to involvement of us humans.

We can shape what happens (most of the time, but more often than we usually recognize). If I say I will walk off the cliff and fly in the sky, well, physics will think otherwise (assuming gravity of our Earth 2016). Is this also “unfair”?

I think a better concept of “fairness” would have to stick to situations we can affect. If I were walking off the cliff with a jetpack equipped, knowing that I tested this jetpack a few hours ago and was able to fly, well I have a clearer idea of what will happen as I walk off that cliff and activate my jetpack.

Now if someone had come in to tamper with the jetpack since I last tested it, without my knowledge, then we might call this situation “unfair” (or criminal). But really, what extra information does saying “unfair” add?

Stuff happens. Sometimes, that stuff is not what we humans want to happen. When we say things are “unfair”, do we really just mean that we should improve things so they happen more like what we would want to happen? Or when we say “unfair”, are we actually meaning “well I should Win more than you because that’s what I want”?

If we taboo the word “Unfair”, what is it we are referring to? Really, we should think less of “fairness”, and more just of “What Is”. Are we unhappy with “What Is”? Then let’s improve it, where we can, in ways we can control. Let’s focus on what we can improve, not just whine about the world not working how we would like it to.

There is no such thing as Unfair. There just Is. We should either change our expectations, or improve the situation so that “What Is” is more like “What We Want”.

It’s Not About Winning or Losing, It’s About Having Fun… While Still Trying to Win

“It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about having fun.”

This sentiment I feel is important, but not quite fully complete. Maybe it is taken out of context and cut short, but whoever originally said this might have continued with: “And while having fun, we must not forget that we are still trying to win.”

Winning and Fun are not mutually exclusive. Some may even define their instance of “winning” to include levels of enjoyment and other essences of “having fun”. It’s sometimes easier to conceptualize winning as separate from having fun in competitions like sports. But we must not use “having fun” as an excuse to allow for a losing mindset. We may happen to lose in a given sport or situation, but we can’t just let that happen without first trying to win. In doing so, we do not have to give up on having fun.

I think what happens in some people’s minds, is that they substitute out “caring about the outcome of winning or losing” with “having fun”. But once we stop caring about winning or losing, we will most probably find out we are losing and will continue to lose. I think we should still care about the outcome, and as part of that we can still have fun.

I think people in general accept too many situations at the expense of fun. We often submit ourselves to do things which we don’t find fun-ness value in. This can be both because we don’t explicitly recognize aspects we enjoy about a certain situation, and because maybe we just don’t enjoy it at all but want some other reward from it. I find it important to be able to recognize which of these situations can become fun (based on our own criteria), and which legitimately cannot meet our fun criteria, and decide which situations we want to remain in and which situations we choose to escape from.

What situations do I find myself in now which don’t seem to have enough fun-ness value? How can I increase my level of enjoyment? Or do I need to take myself out of those situations?

I want to Win, and have fun while doing it. Is that so much to ask?

The Time Value of Fun

There is a concept commonly referred to in finance as the “Time Value of Money”: Money available at the present time is worth more than the same amount in the future due to its potential earning capacity. The core principle of finance holds that, provided money can earn interest, any amount of money is worth more the sooner it is received.

I think there should be a similar concept for having fun. “The Time Value of Fun”: Fun enjoyed at the present time is worth more than the same amount of fun in the future.

Why? Is it that fun can earn me more fun later? If I have fun now, will that subtract from the fun I can have later?

I think it’s more a matter of fun sustaining me now, so that I can continue to have fun later.

There is a mindset currently that we work until retirement so that we can enjoy the fruits of our labor then, having fun at that time through travelling or other hobbies. Why do we have to delay our fun so far away? What if we were to incorporate some of that fun to be experienced later, into what we are doing today?

I think a lot of people try to do this, whether it be through taking vacations from work to travel, or spending weekends on hobbies. The common obstacle for a lot of people is finding the time to have fun, since we have a lot of obligations elsewhere which may not be as fun.

Time waits for nobody. Eventually, time marches on to a point where we will have less and less available time to have fun. There is another concept of fun, maybe we could call it “The Timing Value of Fun”: for the same experience, my value of the fun-ness of that experience varies depending on other factors at that time, such as personal health, others’ health, and surrounding circumstances. If I am being distracted by other ongoing events in my life, or if my health prevents me from enjoying it, a previously conceived fun event may not be as valuable to me.

The longer we wait to have fun, the shorter the time window we have to partake. In that smaller timeframe, the specific timing of events we can value as fun will also become smaller. If I delay fun as I work until I retire at 70, I maybe have 10-20 years left to have fun. In that time-frame, there may be small windows where I can have fun with the people I want to have fun with: maybe 3 days of the week I am in medical checkups, some other days are when kids or people’s kids are in school, maybe certain areas I wanted to travel to are locked down, maybe the weather will be too harsh for me in my old age. There can be a lot of obstacles to having fun later on than we cannot conceive of today, where we may be limited to thinking of our current health and surroundings.

Let’s have more fun now. This fun can lead to more fun in the future. But really, it’s more about enjoying what we are doing now while we can. The fun I have today will help sustain me to have more fun in the future. If I sacrifice what I am now just so I might have fun later, I think that I will not / cannot last long. But most importantly, there is no reason to. Why can’t I have fun now, and also later?

Fun is not a single object, to be experienced now or later. It is an accumulation of experiences that a certain person values, for whatever reasons they may have. There are certain fun experiences which take a lot of preparation to reach. Fun from travelling to exotic foreign lands requires money, which we have to earn over time. In a sense, we must delay certain gratifications. But in that delay, there are other experiences of fun we can have while we are preparing for more fun later. Those are what we should take more advantage of, so that we do not burn out while preparing for that long vacation or big purchase later. We can have fun now, while we prepare and plan for more fun later.

Let’s have more fun the sooner we can, since we may not be able to enjoy that fun later on.

Questions in a Rainstorm

Sitting on a porch rocking chair, in the middle of rainstorm Nona in Sabang, Naic, Cavite in the Philippines. The rain picks up, wind brings some wetness to my hand and the book I’m writing in. A dog curled up checking itself for any creepy crawlers. The sound of raindrops accumulating in the shutters, the rustle of leaves moving in the wind, the sound of family chatting in the background.

I am sitting alone, surrounded by the happenings of the world. Where am I in this space?

The rain falls more heavily, wind lifting pages of this book. I tap my foot. The dog looks my way shortly, interrupted from his struggles against his fleas, and quickly goes back to licking his legs.

It’s not a question of belonging. Belonging infers purpose, a matter of things being where someone or something else intends them to be. I don’t belong here in the Philippines, nor do I belong in Rosemead or San Diego or Long Beach.

The clouds drift in the sky, moving in a general direction. Do the clouds belong in the sky? Do they move because they belong somewhere else? As a cloud spreads itself as raindrops, do those now belong on the ground?

Asking questions is a way to get information. But sometimes we ask questions for information we don’t need at the time for addressing the matter at hand, and sometimes we misuse that information. Sometimes we ask the wrong questions, and then think we got the right answers.

A second dog takes his spot in a lounge chair. A cousin and uncle walk by, discussing plans for building and developing the land. A sound of an airplane zooming by in the sky. Was that plane delayed due to the storm? Will my other cousins’ flight be delayed due to the storm warning level? What’s the difference between a Level 1 and Level 2 storm?

When I am alone, I find myself asking questions to myself. This might be a common habit for everyone, or maybe I’m on the more inquisitive end of the scale. I don’t really expect all of these internal questions to be answered and put into use. Which questions are more important, and for what purposes?

“Where do I belong?” is a wrong question for me at this time. A better form of this question is “Where do I want to be?” These questions are similar, but they focus on different responsible actors. “Belonging” emphasizes forces external to me, whereas the latter question emphasizes my own inclination.

As a soon-to-be 5-year employee of a reputable company, part of a larger worldwide corporation, I find myself comfortable with a decent salary and full benefits package.

What is prompting me to even consider leaving? A sense of discontent at work. Co-workers’ interests and motivations varying significantly from my own. Over-burdening of responsibility because I want us to do better, to solve problems and help our customers succeed. Lack of compensation compared to others who have less merit and commit less effort. Instability in our industry with near-term windfalls. Not wanting to rely on a 401k retirement plan, nor having to wait until retirement age to reap its benefits.

What actions can I take to alleviate the situation? Change my expectations of myself and lower my standards in work ethic. Change my co-workers. Change my company. Become self-employed.

What are the causes of the situation I find myself in? Having to work with people I don’t want to work with. Having to work at times and for a duration I don’t agree with. Having to do things in ways I don’t want to do them.

Can I control these issues? I’ve asked to change teams or team members, but have not received any change. When working in a large company, I am subject to standard shifts with a target retirement age. I also have to do things in accepted ways, even if they are not optimal. And no matter how hard I work, I still have a fixed salary, where performance appraisals and adjustments are not completely merit-based.

My parents come by. Seems like the family is going out today, shopping and probably more eating. Another cousin comes by. Seems like some are planning on paddling a boat in a nearby lake recently filled with rain. I sit here, rocking in my chair, watching some low and fast-moving clouds, hearing light rain pitter-patter, wind playing across the leaves of the trees. Seems like I could sit here for a while, thinking, observing, being.

It’s not a matter of where I belong; it’s a matter of what I want to do. It’s a matter of doing, of playing what I want to play, how I want to play, when I want to play. It’s a matter of winning, first for myself. Can I do that where I’m at now? If not, what do I need to change to give me better chances at winning?

A moment’s peace, a quiet calm in the storm. A motorcycle rumbles in the distance. Where is it going?

Where am I going? Where do I want to go?

“Losing the Right Way” versus “Rightfully Losing”

I’m a simple man; I just like to win. I’m not a fan of losing, but I also recognize that sometimes things may not go my way. When I set out to win in a certain way, circumstances can lead to another way. I want to always win, but I accept that sometimes I will also lose. I allow for this losing, not for the sake of losing, but because this is part of the risk of trying to win. If I were to lose for the sake of losing, I would be victim to a Lost Purpose, and would have forgotten that my actual purpose is to win.

I am trying to win, and may sometimes lose, because I care about the outcome. If I were apathetic, winning or losing would not be meaningful to me. It’s only when I care enough about the outcome of events, either to me personally or as part of a group, that winning and losing represent desirable and undesirable outcomes. If I want to win, or if I want to not lose, then I must also care. Not caring is not a means for winning or losing; this mindset just abstains me from either circumstance. But since there are usually less ways to win and more ways to lose in a given situation, if I were to change from apathy to caring in the future, I would most probably recognize that I have been losing.

It’s even in losing that I can maintain my focus on winning. Understanding why I lost this time can help me to lose less in the future. What do I learn from my losses? How am I updating my beliefs? Was there some inherent belief I had that seems faulty under the new evidence from this loss? I may not win every time, but I must strive towards the win every time. With each loss I must continue through to a victory the next day. If I am practicing losing ways, let me believe that my ways are faulty. I should not feel obligated to hold on to beliefs if there are good reasons to discard them.

I can better analyze my own contributions to losing by recognizing my own thought processes leading to that loss. There may be certain external factors which were out of my control, but I must not be tempted to look for a scapegoat to cover responsibility which should be my own. Sure, some things can be out of my control, but there are a lot more things which can be under my control. It’s those things that I must examine and update to steer more of my future scenarios towards winning.

Losing can lead to future winning. Losing can also lead to continued losing. After losing, are my actions re-navigating me towards better chances at winning? Or am I just accepting losing in a way that I will continue to lose? How can I figure out what type of losing I am doing?

Am I losing the right way? Or am I rightfully losing? How can I tell the difference?

Lying Under Self-Reflection

When we lie to somebody, for whose sake are we lying? Are we lying for their sake? Or are we lying for our own sake?

More often than not, I’d say we lie to others for our own sake. We lie so that we won’t feel uncomfortable talking about a certain topic. We lie so that we can avoid confronting people. We lie so that we can fit in with a group. We lie so that we can feel better about ourselves.

I think that lying to others for their own sake is really, really, really rare. I can’t say it’s completely impossible. But I think that since it seems more beautiful and justifiable, that people would like to believe that they are lying for the other person’s sake.

We can see examples of the different types of lying in many literary works. For example, a Japanese anime/manga called Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (literally “Your Lie in April”) portrays character relationships which are built upon “white” lies for unselfish reasons. Multiple people are shown as lying for another character’s interest and not (at least not entirely) for their own interest.

Lying to others in this manner feels more wonderful than just lying for selfish reasons. This type of lying speaks of self-sacrifice, of being a hero, of saving another from the burden of that which is lied about. Because of this, it’s easier to see and characterize ourselves as lying for others, rather than for ourselves. It’s easier to digest and easier to explain, both to others if/when they find out, and to ourselves while we continue the lying.

Another way people justify lying is by explaining that they will just delay telling the truth, until it’s easier and more suitable to tell the truth. This stance seems like it could be more defensible in certain conflict situations, but only as long as there is an affirmed decision and execution of telling the truth at a later date. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to state that when people lie for this excuse, they don’t really have any intention of telling the truth later. It just feels better for liars to think this way, to think that we are delaying telling the truth because it would be too hard for others to hear the truth now. “It’s for their sake that we must lie”, we think, and try to convince ourselves.

But what happens when we lie to ourselves? When we lie to ourselves, for whose sake are we lying?

We commonly can apply different perspectives and persona based on the situation. If we lie to ourselves, one of our selves will be committing the lie, and another (or more) of our selves is in ignorance of the lie. Are we aware of which self is which? What is our reasoning for allowing this? And is this type of lying from one self to other selves even feasible with our current wetware (i.e. human brain)? Or are all of our different selves able to see the lie, and we are just refusing to acknowledge the truth?

Is lying to ourselves as beautiful as Miyazono Kaori lying to Arima Kousei? Is lying to ourselves as justifiable as parents lying to their children?

Lying is a zero-sum transaction. When one party retains certain information, the other party operates in absence of that information. When in a state of lying, one party is maintaining information dominance over the other. The lying party takes a superior position over the receiving party, who must act from an inferior position.

When we lie to others, we are exerting dominance over them. Whether we do this for the best intentions or the worst intentions, this is what we are doing. We lie to others because we want to maintain information dominance over them. This can be done assertively through choice and delivery of lying words, or passively through silence and evasiveness. Regardless of the intention, this is what we are doing when we choose lying over telling the truth.

When thinking as a Single Player, we sometimes find ourselves lying to our selves. This situation also represents a state of information dominance, although this can be even more confusing with a lack of self-awareness. Which of our selves is lying? Who is exerting dominance over who? It’s easier to recognize when we are lying to others. It’s harder to recognize when we lie to ourselves.

It’s not impossible, but I would say that recognizing when we are lying to ourselves requires a high level of self-reflection. We have to condition a habit of looking at our own thoughts and beliefs, without flinching, and identifying which ideas fit and which ideas don’t fit.

There are probably also cases where we cannot even recognize when we are lying under self-reflection. In these cases, we probably have lied to ourselves so much that even the lying self has become unaware that it is lying. This type of habit is dangerous, and one that I do not want to find myself falling into

I think that if we recognize that we find ourselves lying to others frequently, then this is an indicator that we are probably also lying to ourselves. Not lying to others does not necessarily mean that we are not lying to ourselves, but I think the habit of lying first starts from within ourselves and then propagates to others.

There is only one rhythm to Truth; Lies are chaotic and can take on any other form. The faster that we learn to find the Truth within ourselves as Single Players, the faster that we will learn to face the Truth together.

Playing Less and/or Winning More

There was a time when games were fewer and further between. Games were less available and harder to obtain. It was not so long ago where renting games from the local store was a major source of excitement, wanting to see if the game I wanted to play was returned by the other customer renting it. Games of interest would come out once or twice a year. During these times, any individual game felt like they had much more impact and were more enjoyable.

Today, games are coming out at a much faster pace. Game development and ownership has expounded, especially for PC gamers where new games can be purchased and downloaded so much more easily through online arcades (e.g. Steam, GoG). Even console platforms are transitioning more towards digital purchases and downloads from the comfort of your room. We have so many more games at our fingertips compared to before. But are we appreciating them more? Are we Winning more?

I suspect that this is a matter falling under the umbrella of “ignorance is bliss?” When we know less games, see less games, and are exposed to less games (like in the past), we may think we know more or enjoy more or Win more than we actually could be.

I suspect that if I could play more games with a higher level of appreciation than if I play 1 game repeatedly to its limits, I would rather play and enjoy more games. But it’s hard to just reject that feeling of nostalgia, the urge of wanting to Play Less and Win More.

I kind of want to force myself to play slowly, to read every line of text in an MMORPG, to digest the content as if they would be all that I am seeing until next month or next year. Is this a reasonable request?

Maybe it’s okay to play quickly, as long as the overall content I get to with the extra time I gain is more than if I played slowly. I may be speed-reading or skipping a lot of content, but is this fine as long as I am getting to the same or more overall content over 5 games instead of heavily focusing on 1 game? Or maybe we are rushing things too much?

If I could re-tune myself to be able to still go quickly, to have quicker reading comprehension, to have an adjusted sense and scale of time, and then still appreciate everything more than if I were not enhanced, I suspect I would be getting more value and Winning more. But I don’t have those enhancements. We don’t have that capability, at least not yet.

In the meantime, what do I do? As long as I’m having fun playing video games, whether they be 1 or 100, does it even matter?

I think it would matter, if instead of thinking about video games, we think of similar aspects of life.

Ignorance is bliss. But if I could know more, and be aware of other things to understand and care about, I should want that right?

Unless I think it’s okay to turn a blind eye to those around me that are suffering, that are Losing in life.

We each have our set of problems and obstacles before us. Is it fine to approach these slowly? These problems are few and far between, right?

There may come a time when people as a whole start to notice that there are more problems in this world besides their own, or besides their immediate neighbors own. We are exposed to a lot of news around the world, through broadcast television and social media, at a pace that only seems to continue growing rapidly. We are more connected to those around us.

Are we just focusing on ourselves, or a small proportion of the many, and tuning out the rest? Or are we just glancing across them, speed-reading without full comprehension and rushing to move on to the next?

I think if we had to choose, there would be two optimal approaches depending on the person and situation. We should either focus on less and care more for those few, or if we are capable or can become capable, focus on more and care even more.

Some people might Win more when they play less, and Win less when they play more.

Some people might Win more when they play more, and Win less when the play less.

We should all try to Win, first for ourselves as Single Players. If that means we need to focus on ourselves first, without getting to others, then that’s fine by me. First and foremost, take care of yourself. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and be overwhelmed trying to help others, leading to you unable to help yourself.

But if we can reliably Win for ourselves, I think those interested should then come together to Win even more for those that are losing.

So where am I on the spectrum of Playing Less and/or Winning More? Where are you?

And if we had the option to enhance ourselves or select a preferential mind-state, would it be okay to choose blissful ignorance? If offered a Blue Pill and a Red Pill, would there necessarily be a better choice?

On Giving For Giving

[Yesterday Afternoon]

As I was walking home from work, a random man came up to me.

“Can you spare me some change?” he asks.

I give him one of my blanket responses, “I don’t carry cash on me”. It’s not that I don’t carry cash on me, but I don’t really feel comfortable giving random people cash to spend on whatever they want.

As I start to walk away, he then asks “Can you buy me a sandwich then?”, since we happened to be outside a deli restaurant. I can’t say that I would always agree or disagree in this situation, but I happened to not be in a rush and was amenable to this.

“Can you get me a meatball sub?” he follows. I wasn’t sure that this particular place offered such a thing, so I ask him to just go inside with me so that he could order. As we approach the door, he follows up and asks “Can you get me a salad too?”, where I respond that I would rather just buy him 1 sandwich.

When inside, he proceeds to order, and asks if I could also get him extra avocado on the sandwich. I agree to that. Since I also regularly eat meals around this time, I also order a sandwich for myself.

“So what’s your name?”, I ask. He then introduces himself as Michael, and tells me that he is waiting for the 1st of the month for some money.

I ask Michael if this was a paycheck, and he hesitatingly responds “Something like that”. I follow up and ask him what he’s doing to get back on his feet. He says that he’s doing odd jobs here and there, but one of the people he works for wasn’t available that day.

Some silence as we wait for our order. “Time seems to flow by quickly, it’s already October” he mentions. While time seems to flow by pretty slowly at this moment.

Throughout this time, I try to think of how else I can ask or assure that he is trying to get back his feet. I don’t come up with anything special, so I just exchange small talk with him.

Our sandwiches are ready, I pay at the counter with a credit card, and as we walk out the door he asks for my name and shakes my hand.

“Take care of yourself”, I say.

“God bless you”, he says.

And we walk separate ways.

When I got home yesterday and revisited this encounter, I was tempted to think about what I gained from it. Maybe I could blog about it, I thought. I also didn’t really feel anything special, and considered that maybe I wasted my time time and money.

I decided to let the moment pass a little longer, and wait to collect my thoughts the next day.


[Earlier Today]

Revisiting the events of yesterday, thinking. “Take care of yourself”, I told Michael as I parted ways with him. Was this just a habitual goodbye statement, or more intentional?

In this moment of giving, why was I thinking about what I received?

I wanted to make sure that he was getting back on his feet. Was this for my benefit, or for his?

Why was I somewhat disappointed when I didn’t feel anything special after giving?

Why did I think I should blog about this?


[Later Today]

“God bless you” he told me. If a god is going to bless some somebody, let it be you.

What would people do without a camera recording their good deeds?

What would people do without a social media outlet to highlight their goodness?

What would people do without anyone seeing what they are doing?

Why do people need incentives for giving? I know why, but still, why?


[Now]

I’ve written on why we must first learn to Win as a Single Player so that we Don’t Starve Together. I’ve mentioned that I don’t think I will drop everything I am doing and help everyone who comes asking for my help. I can’t save everybody, but that doesn’t mean I should save nobody. There are times where I can give some of myself, to help others do better.

Why do we have to hear frequently about how giving will make us feel good? I think it would be better, and more sustainable, to tell people that giving shouldn’t be about the givers, but about the receivers. Let’s not focus on the feel-good aspect, for this won’t always be the individual response. I may not feel good about giving, but when I am in a position to give, there are other reasons I still want to give and give again.

Giving is not about us; it’s about who is receiving. It may be common human nature to first think about what we receive when we give, what we gain from the transaction. I think this urge may be a part of our current culture, but that does not mean we can’t improve and condition a different culture. There may be others who also feel the same way. But if I want others to change, I should start this change from myself.

There are others ways to give of yourself, which are more subtle than of giving food or money. When we decide to do more than we are told to do at work, for the sake of improvement, and not just doing the minimum for a paycheck, we are giving something. When we try to teach others so that they can do better, we are giving something. What else do we give ourselves to? Why do we give? Even without receiving, why will we still give?

I think it is important to first give to ourselves, before we can be in a position to give to others. “Take care of yourself” I told Michael. I really, truly mean that. To each of our selves, we must first take care of. I may give to you, so that you can give to you now, so that you don’t need me to give to you later, and maybe eventually you can give to another.

Let’s not rely on what others will give to us. We should each be self-sustainable as Single Players. It’s only once we’ve first learned to Win our own, that we can then Win more together, so that we can Win more for those that have lost.

Culture Change Starts from a Single Player

Culture change can occur when a majority of people decide to do things differently. I won’t focus on discussing this reason for change, since these will tend to occur frequently without much of our directed effort.

Changing culture can also occur when a minority of people decide to do things differently. This minority must be more vocal and forceful than if a majority were to attempt to enact the same change. It is this type of culture change that I will focus on, for this is where a lot more of our effort is required.

First, something needs to be identified with opportunities for improvement. Not every change is an improvement, but every improvement is necessarily a change. Trying to improve some aspect of a culture will necessarily call for change from those within that culture. Proposed change is almost always met with resistance.

So who is going to identify something that can be improved? This proposed change from within a culture must start from the finest minority of that culture: an individual, a Single Player.

It is up to a Single Player to be able to identify and decide that a culture change is required to improve. This is done in spite of what the majority is used to, regardless of what everyone else is saying and doing. A Single Player does not know yet of others who think similarly, who together would be a minority. But if a Single Player chooses not to attempt the improvement themselves, then similarly other like-minded Single Players might choose not to attempt the same improvement.

It is the responsibility of a Single Player to be more vocal and forceful than other players who have no preference, and even more so than other players who prefer to not change. As Single Players, we will find ourselves in this position frequently.

Being able to maintain a minority position on subjects where the majority is either apathetic or negative towards our proposals; this is the strength that is needed.

This is a matter of force of will, of endurance against fatigue, of burdening, of shouldering weight and blame, and of vigilance against our own urge to give up.

This is a matter of being labelled a “Lone Wolf”, of being isolated, and of being ridiculed.

This is a matter of being criticized by many more eyes than our own, where one misstep can send our credibility into the dumpster.

This is a matter where we think we’re improving things for the betterment of all, but others think we just want to change things for our own personal benefit.

How do we combat this in one instance? Can we combat this over multiple instances? How long will it take for us to break? When will we succumb to the inertia of the mass majority?

I think that most easy improvements can be covered by the majority. People will get it right, eventually, hopefully, if they are actually collaborating. But besides the lower-hanging fruit, do we see other ripe opportunities for improvement? These kinds of higher-level improvements would address things closer to the root cause rather than just surface level symptoms. These kinds of improvements often solve or make unnecessary a lot of the lower hanging problems, freeing up more resources for working on other problems. It’s these kinds of improvements that are needed so that we can do better, so that we can Win more, because we need to Win more.

There may be a time when it becomes normal that the majority will drive for improvement with the same emphasis as a focused Single Player. Until that time comes, there will be many losses. As a Single Player, do we stand by and just watch these losses as they occur? Or can we do more? And what can we do more of?