Angry at your­self for wast­ing time play­ing Angry Birds too much? Maybe you’re not wast­ing all that time; maybe you’re just learn­ing how to be more resilient.

Jane McGo­ni­gal invent­ed the game Super­Bet­ter, wrote a book titled Real­i­ty Is Bro­ken: Why Games Make Us Bet­ter and How They Can Change the World (Pen­guin, 2011) and recent­ly post­ed a great short read on “Build­ing Resilience by Wast­ing Time” . In her arti­cle, she reports that peo­ple around the globe “spend 7 bil­lion hours a week play­ing video games” and adds that these game play­ers have “seem­ing­ly noth­ing to show for it”.

Yet, using her own life as a bench­mark, she also reports that when she was restrict­ed to no stren­u­ous work (even writ­ing e-mails) for three months due to a brain injury, she end­ed the career hia­tus won­der­ing if, per­haps, such down­time might have some ben­e­fits. “Once I got bet­ter, I became curi­ous about why some of the biggest wastes of time, such as look­ing at pho­tos of baby ani­mals or wan­der­ing around the neigh­bour­hood, were the activ­i­ties that had helped me the most. That’s when I start­ed devour­ing sci­en­tif­ic lit­er­a­ture about resilience, which draws on neu­ro­science, med­i­cine, and psy­chol­o­gy.”Crazy Macaw (Angry Bird?)

Her main con­clu­sion was that snap­ping back from a set­back involves the abil­i­ty to man­age your­self phys­i­cal­ly, men­tal­ly, emo­tion­al­ly and social­ly — and she details some of the ways you can do that in her arti­cle. What draws me to her think­ing is that there are many ties here to nextsens­ing.

For starters, any­one who’s try­ing to move from a state of dis­rup­tive ambi­gu­i­ty had bet­ter be resilient for the jour­ney is nev­er a straight line or a short trip. It’s easy to become dis­il­lu­sioned when you have set for your­self and your team the task of find­ing a future path for your organ­i­sa­tion. That’s why I con­cur with the sug­ges­tion that spend­ing 30 min­utes a day of think­ing dif­fer­ent­ly (about your­self, what you do and what your busi­ness might be going through) can pay div­i­dends in both the medi­um (and the long) run. Find­ing your next is, at least in part, a func­tion of your will­ing­ness to engage (play) and stay engaged (keep play­ing) even in the face of adver­si­ty. Nextsens­ing is, in part, redefin­ing what it means to be pro­duc­tive — spend­ing more of your time think­ing dif­fer­ent­ly (and in dif­fer­ent ways) is para­mount to dis­cov­er­ing your next.

In sum, I’m an advo­cate for gen­er­a­tive learn­ing, a con­cept that I believe embraces the same four dimen­sions (phys­i­cal, men­tal, emo­tion­al and social) as McGonigal’s resilience menu. As I see it, the two con­cepts are close­ly cor­re­lat­ed and by no means mutu­al­ly exclu­sive.

One more point, in her arti­cle, she also notes that 300 mil­lion min­utes a day are spent play­ing Angry Birds. Got a prob­lem with that? I don’t.

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