Kim Ades is an EO Accelerator participant from Toronto and the president and founder of Frame of Mind Coaching, helping clients reach new levels of success in both their professional and personal lives. EO Accelerator, a program run by the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO), enables early stage entrepreneurs to catapult their companies and empowers them with tools for aggressive business growth. Kim offers up her thoughts on what leaders can take away from a simple mobile game.
Candy Crush - I constantly play it on my phone, and it can be quite addictive. I'm only one of the 93 million people playing daily. And sure, it's a simple game on a phone, but the truth is that leaders can actually learn a few lessons from playing:
1. Failure is meaningless. There's an interesting thing that happens when you play Candy Crush. When you fail, you play again. And again. And again. You keep playing until you win and get to the next level. Losing is only an incentive to keep playing. It's not reflective of a personal skill deficiency, nor is it an indicator of a low IQ. It means nothing.
What would happen if we approached our failures in the business world with the same mindset? Our failures would not nearly have the same stronghold on us. Our failures would not suggest that we are inherently ill-equipped to succeed, nor would they indicate that we should give up and play a different game. They would not cause us to feel self-doubt nor question our self-worth. They would mean nothing. Our failures might even provide us with some measure of instinctive incentive to keep at it.
What's the difference between Candy Crush and business? We take business so much more seriously. In all likelihood, if we approached it more like a game, our success rate would increase - and so would our fun and engagement.
2. Focus on what's being done correctly. One of my very favorite things about Candy Crush is how it responds when I do something good. It says things like "divine," "sweet" and even "delicious." Each time it praises me, it reinforces my behavior and keeps me continuing to play. Ultimately, the game celebrates those right movements and encourages me to continue making more. Amazingly enough, the Candy Crush voice does not berate me when I fail to hit the target or when I miss a great opportunity. It stays quiet and allows me to play and keep on learning, even if I fail.
As leaders, we can learn a valuable lesson from this aspect of the game. Reinforce good behavior by acknowledging it and encourage the concept of failing forward by making room for failure and expecting continued play. This is not just "being a soft leader" - it can truly be a strategic move that results in long-term loyalty and commitment.
3. Increase the challenge. When I first started playing Candy Crush, each round was relatively easy. I didn't fail all that much and my ability to get to the next level was effortless. My early wins made me keep playing. Soon, however, I noticed that the difficulty increased, as did my desire to nail each round. I think if the level of difficulty hadn't changed, I would have become bored and disengaged.
Increasing the challenge is a critical element in keeping players (and employees) engaged. Set them up to win and then challenge them to perform at higher and higher levels, knowing that they have it in them to succeed.
4. Figure it out as you go. I don't think I'm alone in this, but I did not look up or study the rules of Candy Crush before I started playing. I just downloaded the app, started playing and figured it out along the way. I discovered a few really cool things. For example, if I combine five candies of the same color and shape, I get a super ball that helps me blow through many obstacles at once. Unfortunately, I also learned that if I don't pay attention to the number of moves I have, losing comes easily.
Learning along the way and making adjustments as you go is the foundation of effective leadership. There are no instructions or automatic formulas for success. Those who succeed learn from their mistakes quickly, get back on the horse and make adjustments to increase their likelihood of success the next time around. Whether they are learning from others, reading books or experimenting, continuous learning is mandatory for leaders who are committed to achieving massive success.