Recently, I had the opportunity to make a TEDx talk and I chose to speak about a lesson I had learned in life, which happened to be greatly beneficial to me. I was lucky to learn that early on in my life. It is concerned with blaming others and it is especially dear to me as I had been a serious gamer in school and it was very common to constantly talk about how your teammates suck in-game.
But although we tend to blame others in a video game, I have observed that we have the same attitude as adults, as well. All the time, I hear people say how the government is responsible for the problems of our society. How we are poor not because we don’t have any useful skill with which to serve society, but because the country sucks.
Those are some common examples I encounter, but I am sure you can think of others yourself. That is why, today I want to share with you one vital lesson I learned as a gamer. It helped me become better in the game, but it also helped me grow in life.
My early gaming experience
When I was in school, I played a lot of games. I always preferred to play video games instead of studying. My parents hated that. There was this particular game which got my attention for a reasonable amount of time. The game is called League of Legends. It is still very popular among gamers.
League of Legends is a team-based game, where you participate in a team of 5 people and the aim is to destroy the enemy base. That is why, in its nature, the game is teamwork driven. When I started playing it, I had a lot of losing streaks. And back then, I firmly believed that it is my teammates who are pulling me down as there was a constant load of people in my team who made stupid decisions.
One of my favorite stories from that period is about a game in which everything was going well. We were able to kill all of the enemy players, so we attacked the enemy base, which was undefended. Everything seemed clear. I just gave an order to my character to attack the enemy base and waited until the victory screen appears. However, one of my teammates had a plan of his own. He decided to stand in front of the enemy base and dance instead of attacking it. As he was one of the primary damage dealers in our team, his input was crucial.
Since we couldn’t destroy the base in time, the enemy players respawned, they attacked us, killed us and eventually they destroyed our base and won the game. That was one of the saddest moments in my gaming career. I was filled with anger so much, that I hit the wall with my fist. Well, the wall was just fine, but my hand really hurt.
An important milestone
That is when I decided that something has to change. I couldn’t stand playing with such people anymore. I wanted to climb the ranked ladder of the game in order to play with more thoughtful teammates. So I started searching for videos where a player, who is among the best, will give me some insights on how to become better.
Shortly after, I found out about a YouTube channel of a guy calling himself gbay99. He was making League of Legends videos and they seemed to be popular and pretty interesting. But once I started watching them, I was surprised. It wasn’t what I expected. This guy’s videos weren’t focused on telling you what characters to play or what items to buy. They were focused on delivering one simple idea – No matter the situation, always blame yourself instead of your teammates. This video is the one which explains this philosophy in most detail.
At first, I thought that this is just stupid. How can some philosophy help me become better? But eventually, I actually started applying this in my games. And something happened. I started playing better and eventually, I climbed the ranked ladder of the game!
I started from the bottom and I played with the weakest players in the game. Then, slowly, I got to one of the top rankings in my server and I played with some of the best players in the game.
If someone had told me I would achieve this when all of it started, I wouldn’t have believed him. For a long time, I couldn’t understand why this simple philosophy helped me become a better player. But recently, I discovered another very simple idea that perfectly pictures the path I had followed.
Think – Do – Have
This is the process we go through in order to achieve a significant goal. First, we acquire the right thinking. Then we start doing whatever we have to do in order to achieve our goal. Finally, we achieve it. The big problem for many people, me included, is that we constantly try to skip the first part. We always try to quickly start doing whatever we have to do without giving a thought about what kind of mindset we have to develop in order to overpass our endeavors.
A very common example is a person who is trying to lose weight. What do we do, when we have this problem? We find a popular diet, which states that it will help us lose a lot of kilograms in a month and we blindly start following it. When the month has passed, there might be some results, but since we haven’t developed the right mindset for the task, our old habits will slowly appear again and we will regain our old shape.
That is exactly what my mistake was when I was in the lowest divisions of the game. I wanted someone to tell me what to do in order to get better. I was looking for easy solutions like getting a pretty strong character, or buying a strong item. But only when I developed the right mindset – to always blame myself, did I start achieving my goal.
Once I had the right mindset, I didn’t need anyone telling me what to do. I could figure that out on my own. Because when you blame yourself, you start seeing patterns, which you couldn’t see before. You start identifying your mistakes and you fill the gaps with the precise things you need.
How does blaming yourself apply in real life
The idea of always blaming myself was crucial to my success as a League of Legends player. But this did not only help me become better in a video game. It helped me rapidly grow in my career, later on, as a developer.
There were many cases where I was observing friends and colleagues doing the same mistakes I was doing as a weak player in the game. When I was studying programming, we had to pass many exams, which were pretty hard. Once the exam was over, there was always something which people would whine about. One time it would be that the last group of students had an easier exam and we were screwed for having a harder one. Another time it might be that the server crashed or that there was too much noise in the examination room.
Later on, as a developer, I observed how many people were trying to blame their teammates from other departments for a failure on a task. Programmers often blame the QA engineers for not testing the software well enough. Or it may be the Requirement engineers for not making a good enough documentation.
But I firmly believe that only when we start focusing on what we could do for ourselves, instead of what others could do for us, will we become better professionals.
My father always used to tell me that gaming was meaningless and I won’t learn anything from it. But it seems that one of the most valuable lessons in life, I received by playing one of my favorite games. You will become a better gamer by always blaming yourself if that is your goal. But it can also help you become a better professional as well
Next time you play a casual game with friends, or you are doing a project in a team, try applying this philosophy. Assume that everything happens as a result of your input. Whenever something fails, it is only you who should take the blame.
Once you develop this habit, you will start seeing patterns, which were not visible to you before. Because whenever we blame others, we become blind for our own mistakes. Once we start blaming ourselves, instead of blaming others can we firmly start following the road to mastery.