In many video games, you “level up” by performing tasks that increase your powers and capabilities. In real life, if you want to grow your influence and impact, you also need take big swings and calculated leaps that will help you to advance faster.
In their new book, The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise?, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith point out that growing your impact and influence has much in common with succeeding in video games. In both cases, you can slowly advance by doing the “grunt work.” In games like World of Warcraft or Skyrim, for example, that involves fighting and defeating low-level foes. In this way, you gain experience points that give you enough power to win bigger battles and gain new powers and capabilities along the way.
Advance faster: make “calculated leaps”
The other strategy to advance faster in video games – and in real life – is by making what the authors call “calculated leaps” that are well ahead of your current level of accomplishment. Brogan and Smith explain:
In other words, you must get your baseline work done. Those are the table stakes to play the game. If you don’t get your normal day-to-day work done, your job will suffer, no matter if you work for yourself or an organization. But you should also have some “stretch goals” in mind that you keep working toward as well.
In video game parlance, that means fighting a foe that is several levels above you. If you win, you can leapfrog ahead of the normal progression and advance more quickly. In real life, it means strategically picking those opportunities where you think you have a good chance of winning; they’re not advocating self-destructive behavior or making moves that could endanger your current position.
4 strategies to level up in your work
1. Pick a metric for everything you’re doing that matters: Make sure your stretch goal is specific and measurable. Have a few numbers that you’re always working toward. But they warn not to have too many metrics – just a few simple ones work best.
2. Break your “big swings” down into smaller tasks: “If your goal is to earn a million dollars next year, break that into monthly revenue (around $84,000) and make your daily grind something to move that number. Even if you get to 10 percent of that by year-end, you’re doing great.”
3. Take a wild swing: For example, the authors suggest asking for an introduction to someone above your pay grade, or applying for a job you’re not qualified for. “Try something bigger than what would be a natural progress. There’s risk, but the rewards are big, too.”
4. Play new games: Mix it up a bit. Don’t get too comfortable in the game you’re playing. Set new challenges for yourself. Learn something new. “The moment you get too eased into the game you’re playing is the moment you’ll miss the chance to level up.” By the way, continuing to learn new things related to your stretch goal – either on your own or in a structured class – can be a powerful way to level up.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to level up!