Skip to main content

I have a confession to make.  I play Call of Duty.  I mean, I play a lot of Call of Duty.  I mean, I play way too much Call of Duty, in a competitive online environment.  Now for the confession-I rarely win.

Yes, I play this game and I am not embarrassed about it.  My favorite game is team-based, providing for a diverse experience each time I play.  Crazier yet is losing to kids that haven’t even made it through middle school.  So, you may be asking how can anything related to leadership be learned in this online game competing against youngsters with no life experience, in a game that is unrealistic or fake.  Great questions. 

Let me start with this premise.  Losing to kids not even out of middle school causes one to be humble, and yeah, maybe mad sometimes. This is my first leadership lesson.  Never assume talent, ability, or know-how based on age.  Can we please just stop with the millennial generalizations while we’re at it?  We can generalize negatives about any age group.  We can also choose to generalize positives about any age group.  I lose to talented “people”, not millennials, or baby boomers.

Next, there is a piece to this game that intrigues me far greater than the diversity.  See, this game requires a player to “rank up” with 55 levels of ranking.  Get ranked up and more tools open up, more advantage opens up.  When and if you get to level 55 the game deems you an expert.  And then, just as in life, just after you’re deemed an expert, you have a choice to make.  It’s a big one, too! You can either stay at level 55 with all the advantages and perks you’ve earned or, you can enter “Prestige Mode.”  Let’s talk about “Prestige Mode” for a minute.  Why would one choose to give up all advantage to virtually start over?  What is there to prove?

Here is the second leadership lesson.  Prestiging is like work life.  We spend an unknown amount of time becoming experts, and then, some of us are asked to start over as a manager or leaders.  Maybe we are asked to change departments and learn a new skill set, or asked to change offices or move across the country to a new team.  Or how about being asked to take on a special project, or work with employees we don’t know or care for—the list goes on.  When provided that opportunity, how do you react?  Will you press the button to Prestige or will you decline and declare expertise and comfort?

Now there are plenty of COD players who choose to not prestige, just as many employees bask in the accomplishment of expertise and hold steadfast in their refusal to reset.  This is the third leadership lesson.  Reset or not?  Reworded, risk or not? What makes a person choose one or the other?  Here’s my take away.  For some in the game, just as in life, the reset is done for self-aggrandizement.  Yet, I surmise that most reset because they are explorers, self-challengers, artisans of the game they are choosing to play.  Young and old alike, COD shows there are plenty willing to give up their status and perks to prove they can start over, and still rise to a new level of “expert.”

It took me over a month of play time, but I achieved that level 55 status and I was faced with the decision.  For me, the decision to stay status quo, versus Prestige was made in seconds—of course, I prestiged.  In fairness, COD is a game. I am not recommending life-altering decisions be made in seconds.  But I am recommending that when the chance comes, and I wish for you that chance to happen, you take a deep breath and find the courage to make the change, to take the Prestige.  This step of Prestiging is a period for immense knowledge growth.  You see, at this point, you know the basics of the job, and acquiring new skills becomes the primary focus.  And for those of you just starting a career, or school, or a project, work hard to get to the perks, or what I call the “good stuff.”

Here is a demonstrative from a work environment.  When a person starts a job, they spend time learning the culture, politics, the silos of work teams, as well as their primary job duties.  Once learned they might be offered a promotion.  If taken, this would be the Prestige.  New duties must be learned, but the culture, the politics, the silos remain the same.  You are now in a period of immense growth potential.

Hard work, persistence, and allowing experts around you to bolster you regardless of their background or age, will provide for your security, and ultimately a chance to make a decision related to your future.  Will you Prestige, or will you remain status quo.

There are other leadership lessons I have learned playing this game.  I will save those for my next blog.  As for now,  my Xbox controller is calling my name.