Trust Agents 2b: Don’t Be Boring

Tic-Tac-Toe is a boring game. I can’t think of the last time I lost a game of Tic-Tac-Toe. I bet you can’t either. And you know why? It’s because the game is too simple. You can be a master at Tic-Tac-Toe, but no one will care.

You’ve got to play a new game.

In the second (and third) part(s) of chapter 2, Brogan and Smith discuss steps 2 and 3 of gaming (see Mary Beth Stockdale’s post for step 1). Here they offer two ways to improve your game: hacking and programming.

They explain hacking as “changing the rules or the game play and using a system in a different way than it was designed.” Basically, do with a game what no one else is doing. Turn your game of Tic-Tac-Toe into Connect 4…or 5. If the game you’re playing isn’t working, change it.

For example, Brogan and Smith mention resumés in chapter one. Your resumé is probably boring. Mine is. I’ve done some cool stuff, and I’m sure you have, too, but who cares? That boring white sheet of paper isn’t impressing anyone, really. But if I’m an employer and if Gary Vaynerchuk applies to manage my website, I’m going to hire him way before I look at his resumé. You know why? Because he’s changed the rules of the game. He’s got his own platform, and people know his name.

That brings us to programming. Sometimes, the game will never be good enough, even if you change the rules. Monopoly is fun, but you’ll never be able to feed your family by adding new rules to make Free Parking more enticing. No, you’ve got to create a new game.

Chris and Julien define programming as “starting from a completely new angle with your own everything.” Here they provide a very concrete course of action: do something.

If you’re sitting on an old game, trying to make it work when it’s obviously dead, don’t keep trying. Make a new game. It can be anything, just do it. If you wait, you will fail.

Look at Twitter (you thought I would make it through an entire post without mentioning Twitter–yeah right). What a terrible idea. Seriously, Twitter is stupid. But I’ve spent hours and hours trying to get people to follow me. Twitter’s founders made their own game, and it’s unquestionably one of the fastest-growing media fronts.

You don’t have to make a new Twitter to be successful. You just have to do something. Anything. Just don’t sit there and do nothing.

So here’s what I want us to think about: how can we get from being stuck in the status quo to trying something new? It’s got to be possible, right? What steps must we take?

Steven Rossi mostly just does homework. And he likes ice cream. He blogs at LetsMoveToTheMoon (which he thinks has a really great name).


Steven Rossi likes ice cream. A lot. He also likes blogging, reading, Twittering, and the Internet. Oh, and ice cream.

9 Responses to “Trust Agents 2b: Don’t Be Boring”

  1. Let’s look at the Twitter example. How many of us thought “Who cares what I’m doing right now?” It took me a full year to get on board.

    What has happened with Twitter is the users have changed the rules. It’s no longer “What am I doing right now?” It has become a form of quick communications — not as efficient as Instant Message but more efficient than email because of the 140 character limit and the wide spread nature of it.

    Just last week Twitter was used to help a special needs baby by tweaking the rules http://thewellmom.com/blog/2009/10/19/moms-plea-for-help-races-across-the-web/

    So, even within existing systems, we change the rules to make it work.

    BTW, Steven, I have never tried to get followers but they’ve come along through relationship activities. That’s food for a different post.

  2. I’m a sucker for vision. I’m a sucker for people that change the game.

    Changing the game is incredibly exciting. In fact, as I’m writing this comment my knee is bouncing up and down so hard that my laptop lid is swaying along to the rythm (mostly because I’m working on a “game changer” myself that I’m hopefully launching this week – I’ll keep you guys informed on how it works out).

    Steven, you asked, “How can we get from being stuck in the status quo to trying something new?”

    Step 1: We can’t be afraid of failure. We’ve got to start looking at failure as a potential breakthrough to something great.

    If Twitter hadn’t worked out then who cares? Maybe 15-25 people might have known and made jokes about it. Maybe even a few hundred but life moves fast and mistakes become memories before we know it.

    People like Jessica Jackley of http://www.kiva.org and Andrew Rugasira of http://www.goodafrican.com both understood this principal and are changing the game daily as it relates to alleviating poverty. My guess? There are thousands of people who are increibly thankful today that they weren’t afraid to fail.

    Step 2: Repeat step 1.

  3. This reminds me of the definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. If you are not moving in the direction you want, it’s time to re-evaluate the strategy. The decision is – scrap everything and start over (programming) or tweak the current system (hacking).

    I love creative minds that take a different perspective or approach. That’s so hard for me and why I admire that trait in others. Can someone teach us how to get out of the rut? Think outside the box? Is that a spiritual gift? =)

    For what it’s worth, I love twitter. It provides me with a platform to connect with kingdom builders across the globe. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Creative minds are continually improving the game or usefulness of twitter and facebook. I am just as excited about the changing ‘game’ of twitter, as the next great idea.

  4. @Susan Now we’re talking craziness! People changing the system inside of a game-changing system! ;-)
    @Jan Wow – huge point! Having a vision is great, but if you’re too afraid that you’ll fail, the vision won’t go very far.
    @Mary Beth That’s something I want to know. I’ve been realizing lately that I’m lousy at coming up with my own ideas. I would love it if someone could teach me how to better think critically and develop new ideas and innovative solutions.

  5. This part of the book really hit me in a couple of areas of life. It has huge applications to my work, but for the sake of discussion, I’m going to focus on an area of life that applies to all of us…

    If any type of organization needs to change the game it’s churches. Most churches are declining because they continue to play by the “old rules,” which don’t work any more. Fortunately there are a lot of churches who are changing the game. Many of them started by asking themselves some of these questions…

    - Do we have to use rituals/liturgies non-Christians don’t understand?
    - Do we have use music that was written before any of us were born?
    - Do we have to meet in a church?
    - Do we have to be a part of a denomination?

    And I’ll throw out some questions few churches dare to ask themselves?

    - What if instead of expecting people to come to our church, we went out into the community to serve people?
    - What if instead of judging people for their sins, we accepted them no matter where they are?
    - What if we did a service where the sermon wasn’t the focal point?
    - What if instead of spending 90%+ of our budget on ourselves (facilities, staff, ministries), we gave half our money to those in need?
    - What if instead of getting together once a week for an hour, we actually looked like the early church described in Acts 2?

    What other questions should we be asking as church leaders?

    If we’re going to change the world, churches need to change their game.

  6. It seems that being creative and changing the rules comes naturally for some people, while others have to exercise more faith and determination. Because of this, it seems best to work with others with differing personalities and talents to initiate new “programs.”

  7. Amen @PaulSteinbrueck! Preach brother!
    @evdaddy – That’s exactly right. If it were up to me I’d change all the games, even ones that don’t need changing. I need people around my leadership table that can scout the risks not worth taking, step on the brakes as needed, and creatively suggest steps A-C to suppliment (and many times save) my plan that jumps straight to D:)
    @Mary Beth – “can someone teach us how to get out of the rut?” Ask! Ask people to come in from the outside and evaluate the game you’re playing. Much like building a listening station to hear what’s being said about you, asking people to tell you directly what they think has proven to be invaluable to my game:)

    As far as it being a “spiritual gift” I’m not sure but I do know it has a lot to do with “strengths” which if you’re not familiar with is explained here http://www.extraordinarynormal.com/2009/09/are-you-strong.html

    If you’ve not done it I would recommend very HIGHLY that you find out what yours are and look for people that compliment your “strengths” to work with you…talk about game changing!

  8. Paul wrote the “What if” comment on Oct 21. Just got around to checking this out. Great suff, Paul. A lot of people are asking how do I think different, be inovative, how can I learn? One way i believe is where you are located. Inter-city? Does your church relate? In the burbs? Try gospel in the mall. We live at the beach so we go to the beach with the Gospel. The concept is simple but there is one defining element that can not be left out. We must show people Jesus no matter where we live. Without the real deal Jesus thing goin on people know it. Even if they don’t know Jesus personally people know if we do or not. I don’t know how they know but they know. Keep us in your prayers
    Steve Hanks

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