#1540 Areté +1° #005: Character vs. Design Flaws

How To Play the Game of Life

Hi, this is Brian. Welcome back to another Areté +1°.

This is the fifth micro-chapter in my new book, Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential.

451 of what I hope are potentially life-changing ideas. The best stuff I know, organized around 7 Objectives.

We're going through the first 11 micro-chapters in the first objective.

Then we'll have fun looking at some of my favorites in the days and weeks ahead.

Let's get to work.


Now that we’ve mined some wisdom gems out of my morning with Emerson, how about one more gem from the evening and then we’ll carry on?

For curious souls, Emerson wound up having a great day of chess. He won two games and “won” two more via lessons he learned in a couple of losses to some superior players.

We decided to stop at the laser tag place on the way home as a little celebration of the day and as a celebration of a milestone he hit on Chess.com.

So… We show up at Blazer Tag in Austin excited to have some fun.

And… we just miss getting into the group that’s about to start. Eek.

The start time for the next group is so late that we won’t be able to make it.

The guy running the show says he’ll get us in, but we’ll be missing part of the briefing in which everyone is told how to play the game.

Emerson had played earlier that week and he knew how to play. I haven’t played laser tag in roughly forty years.

I’m thinking: “It’s laser tag. Can’t be that hard.”

I say: “Perfect. Thank you!”

We head in to the final part of the briefing. Then we put on the gear. Then we head into the laser tag arena.


I’m absolutely TERRIBLE.


As in, I’m really really really bad.

To put it in perspective, earlier in the week, Alexandra played with Emerson and she was so bad that she got a -99 score.

The guy who runs it said he’d NEVER seen anyone do that bad. We’d laughed about it as a family that night.


Ten minutes into the twenty-minute game, I have a -100 score.


My mental toughness is eroding quickly.


Self-talk: “Wow. I’m really bad at this. I think I should just quit playing and find the exit. This is embarrassing.”

Then I look a little closer at the little stats dashboard on the laser thing.

Right above my Hall-of-Shame-worthy “-100” score, I see some data on my ammo. I have 1,000 units of laser tag ammo.

Now, that’s a little weird because I’m pretty sure I started with 1,000 units of laser tag ammo and, trust me, I’ve been trying to use those laser tag ammo units. My trigger finger is sore from squeezing that thing so hard.


Somehow, as I fiddle with everything, I stumble upon a little button at the end of the laser.

I press it while squeezing the trigger and...

A laser fires.

I hear it!!

A sound has never been so beautiful.

Long story slightly shorter, now I get to work channeling my inner SEAL and start having a ton of fun. I end the game with 400-and-something points—right behind Emerson.


You know what I thought of?

I thought of BJ Fogg.

As you may know, BJ runs the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford University.

He’s done some of the research that inspired James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habit.

And, he wrote his own book called Tiny Habits.

I’m going to walk you through some of the best, most life-changing ideas from all those books as we turn you into a habit-installing (and -deleting!) ninja, but for now I want to emphasize the distinction from his book that I was thinking about as I took my laser tag gear off.

In short, BJ tells us that if you’ve struggled with changing your behaviors in the past, you might want to consider the fact that it wasn’t a CHARACTER flaw, but a DESIGN flaw.

In other words, nothing was wrong with YOU per se, you simply didn’t know HOW to effectively change your behavior.

Laser tag is a LOT easier and a LOT more fun when you know how to play the game. So is life.

It’s time for the “How to play the game of life” briefing we never got.

P.S. Alexandra told me that I need to tell you that the week before, she also missed the part of the briefing in which they teach people how to shoot a laser, because she was chasing Eleanor at the time. Which meant that she had the exact same experience of not knowing how to shoot a laser. Haha. #soulmates

P.P.S. I hope you enjoyed that Areté +1° from my new book Areté: Activate Your Heroic Potential. The book will be shippable on Nov 14th—right before Black Friday… in time to make it the perfect holiday gift?!? 🤷‍♂️ 🤓 🙌

I wanted to let you know that we have some special giveaways if you think you might like to pre-order the book and even more goodies if you think you might want to give the book away this holiday season. Here’s the deal!

Pre-order 1 copy and get a free advance reader copy of the eBook today!

Pre-order 3 copies and get a free advance copy of the eBook AND the audiobook AND a limited-edition Areté coin.

Pre-order 10 copies of the book and get all that plus an AUTOGRAPHED advance hardcover reader copy sent to you immediately inside the Areté VIP Box packed with other goodies including 10 (!) free annual Heroic memberships for your gift recipients!

Pre-order 25 copies and get all that plus a free ticket to our launch event-party in Austin on November 10th-12th.

Pre-order 50+ copies and get a big discount!

Place your order here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indies

Let us know when you have so we can hook you up: heroicpbc.typeform.com/preorder

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