the wisdom of angry birds…

I don’t play games. Everyone knows this. I don’t like competition. There’s enough of that out in the world, why would I want to intentionally have more? But, something in the tense black eyebrows of the angry red bird beckoned me, “join us and fight the good fight!” I was bored and somewhat hostile, so I began to launch birds at those smug, grinning pigs every chance I got. I got good at it, really good at it. I soon discovered that not only was this yet another unmarketable skill I had mastered, but it was oddly calming and refreshing.

Then one day, I heard an interview on NPR where Henry Winkler was talking about his fishing hobby being something like “a washing machine for his brain”. Aha! The birds were not just offering the mental stimulation and problem solving that was lacking in my work environment, they were washing my mind clean. It was only later that I realized they are also teaching me important life lessons. OK, have your snort and chuckle, then read on.  There is wisdom to be had…

Read the directions. Find the directions.
I slogged through the entire first level of Angry Birds before I stumbled upon the fact that the birds have special powers. Once I learned to click and use these powers, the games got easier but more exciting, and the pace quickened. Learn how the game is played. It makes all the difference.

Identify areas of weakness.
Everything those smirking pigs build has a weak point. Find it and take aim. You will crush them. Identifying your own areas of weakness can’t hurt either. Find them. Fix them. Build yourself a stronger life.

Use the right tool for the job.
Each bird has unique skills. Some are good for breaking wood, some break stone, some break glass. You can hammer away with the wrong bird for the job all day and the pigs will just laugh, and laugh, and laugh at you.

Walk away and come back.
If you want a new perspective, you have to walk away from your current view. Loosen up, let go, try again. It works.

Look at it a different way.
When you’re not getting the results you want, find a new starting point, hit another angle, explore your options.

Happy accidents can teach you a lot.
There’s often something you don’t see, some minor detail that makes all the difference. You’re flinging your birds at the pigs and you accidentally discover some piece of the puzzle that makes it all work. Serendipity is always lurking somewhere. Look for it.

Keep trying, trying, trying.
The hardest, and therefore most useful, life lesson of Angry Birds is that sometimes your score is based on sheer chance and dumb luck (or the inscrutable programmers at Rovio). You can make the same play over and over and still just miss that elusive three-star score. Do it again. And again. And again. Eventually – if your cause is just, your aim is true, and luck is with you – you’ll get there.

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