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What Nintendo Taught Me About Failure

Growing up, I never had an N64, playstation, or gamecube. I had the original nintendo. So instead of mastering MarioKart, I mastered a game called Bubble Bobble. Two bubble-blowing dinosaurs capturing monsters with their bubbles and ascending 99 levels to beat the game.

Of course, each dinosaur had limited lives. And inevitably, I would run out of them. However, the game generously offered a passcode every time you lost all of your lives so you could start at the level you last completed.

This cheat code allowed me to lower the stakes of the game, and eventually defeat all 99 levels.

When we fail, we often feel like we were on level 98 and have to start again on level 1. You might even think,

“I’m not meant to be an artist.”


“I’m not capable of being in a successful relationship.”

Or even

“I’m not enough.”

So not only do you make it mean you have to start over at LEVEL 1 but you also make it mean that you aren’t even worthy of playing the game, effectively raising the stakes so high it is impossible to succeed.

Every failure comes with built-in cheat codes. Every time you aren’t cast in a show or get in a fight with a loved one or come short of your goal, you create your own personal cheat codes.

That means the more failure you experience, the more cheat codes you will receive.

Trial and error hurts when the stakes are high. But the more you consistently try, the lower the stakes.

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