I grew up in the 80s and 90s at what I would consider to be the most exciting time for video games. Each new console seemed to bring with it new amazing things like 32bit graphics or new controllers, or even 3D graphics (gasp).
Back then my brother and I were lucky enough to be given a Nintendo console for Christmas one year. It was that console that I consider to be my “gateway” console. It gave way to a whole flourish of other games and consoles.
Despite having explored Sega and Sony, I was a Nintendo fan through and through. They had the best games, the best stories and the best branding.
My favourite games were Super MarioKart, Super Mario Bros 3 and, you guessed it, The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time.
I still consider The Ocarina of Time to be the best game of all time. The story, characters, music and idea were so well bound together and so well executed that I spent a disproportionate amount of my teenage life playing the game.
It was through that game that I have been taught some amazing lessons that I carry through with to this day.
There is Money in the Bushes
One of my favourite things to do in the game was to run around and destroy pots and chop down bushes.
Not because I had anything against pots or bushes but because the game developers had decided to hide rupees (money) in them.
This incentivised me to do impromptu gardening and vandalism. Thankfully non of the characters minded if you destroyed their plants or pots.
You may be thinking “what does this have to do with an important life lesson Rich?”
The answer is simple.
I would often only destroy these things in the game when I needed money to buy stuff.
This has taught me that often the answer to the question is often within my grasp.
Take for instance my journey in the online space.
When I started I knew I wanted to start a blog and do online education but didn’t know what on earth I could focus on.
The answer was staring me in the face; I would focus on what it is that I do each and everyday - write music. (Cue sound of pot being smashed)
Listen to the Fairies
They main character in Zelda was called Link and he had a fairy, called Navi, who would follow him around wherever he went.
She would point things out to you if you missed them and give you little clues as to how you might progress in the game.
She was ace.
Whether you believe in actual fairies or not we all have a little voice that helps and guides us in our journey in life.
Some call this your intuition, subconscious, higher soul, God, or even just your mind.
Whatever you call it we all have this quiet whisper that points stuff out to us and helps us when we are stuck.
The problem I had in the game was that sometimes I didn’t want to listen to this voice or sometimes I didn’t even notice that it was there.
I have this problem in life too. I am often too busy (smashing pots) to notice that there is a little voice helping me out with what I should be doing next.
Then I remind myself of the fairy in Zelda and how I would need to stop and actively listen to what she was saying.
This is what you and I must do in life.
There is a pattern to defeating the boss
In Zelda, and in fact pretty much all video games, you would face a ‘boss’ at the end of each level.
The idea is that you would need to defeat the boss to level up.
The problems was that the bosses in Zelda where actually quite hard to defeat unless you figured out their little secret weakness.
Every boss had a weakness that was revealed to you in the form of a pattern. For example a giant spider that you need to hit in the eye but you only ever saw the eye after it had completed 4 walks around the room.
There was always a pattern to beating the boss.
This has taught me something pretty cool.
For example (this is hypothetical), the obstacle is that my accounts are often handed in late. The pattern is that I avoid them out of fear until I can’t avoid them anymore. Thus creating more stress and more fear around accounts.
Once I notice the pattern I can use that to level up.
The moment I know my accounts need to be done I put them to the top of my list and get them done. Thus defeating the obstacle and levelling up.
Gotta make sure you do the small stories too
Wishing the game there was a primary storyline to ‘save Princess Zelda from the bad guy, Ganondorf’.
As well as this storyline there were always multiple smaller storylines that were actually more fun and usually more fulfilling.
They had a certain mystery to them and completing them felt achievable and incredibly rewarding.
They gave me the same feeling ticking a box on a to do list ✅
Not only that but they made the whole journey altogether more exciting.
Cue Life Lesson.
Just to be clear this isn’t going against the idea of ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’ - that’s more about worrying about pointless things.
This lesson is to enjoy the little things that we encounter during our lifetime that on the surface don’t seem like we should bother but they can actually completely enrich your life for the better.
Exploring is fun
One of my favourite things to do in this game (and World of Warcraft too) was to explore.
I would not leave an area of the game until I had explored every nook and cranny.
I loved it. This feeling of trying to see what happens when I jump from one rock to another or to see what happens when I smash a certain door, or where a certain path leads.
There was a delightful curiosity to the whole thing.
I often talk in my courses and podcasts about following your curiosity because it can lead to wonderful things that you would never have expected.
I always want to hold onto this idea from Zelda, that exploring is fun and making more time for those two I things is a completely worthy cause.
Celebrate the small wins
To this day, when I have found something that I have been looking for or achieve something cool I mimic what Link would do in Zelda when he opened a chest.
It made achieving the smallest things feel so fun and worthwhile.
This is a lesson I am still working on, making sure I celebrate the small wins.
Each time you achieve something that doesn’t seem like a “big deal” - make a big deal out of it. The motivation and feeling of fulfilment you get will spur you on to keep working towards the “big win”.
Making tunes unlocks the world
The whole thing about Ocarina of Time was that Link had an ocarina that he played.
He could use that ocarina to unlock new levels.
He used his strength and given tools to progress in his journey.
Link playing music unlocked his world.
You must do the same.
Not learn the ocarina, well you can if you want, but use your skills to unlock your life.
We have all been given tools and skills that we can use in our lives to manifest our purpose and help others manifest theirs.
The next time you want to create something, do it and share it. You never know what that creation might unlock in your life.