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Appreciate Your Chance To Fail

August 6, 2013

No, no, I mean it. I mean it. Somebody must have goofed. If I gotta stay here another day, I’m gonna go nuts! Look, look, I don’t belong in Heaven, see. I want to go to the other place.

Heaven? Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This IS the other place!
– Twilight Zone, “A Nice Place To Visit. -”

“A Nice Place To Visit,” is one of my all time favorite Twilight Zone episodes. It describes the story of Rocky Valentine, a small time thug who dies and in the afterlife he gets everything he ever wanted.

I thought about this episode the other day as I watched my kids play XBox. My boys are 13 years old and we’re pretty careful about what they play. So, they tend to pick a game and play it over and over. One of their recent favorites is Lego Star Wars.


All three of my boys play it using the same profile so that they can take advantage of each other’s in-game accomplishments.

One of the recent accomplishments they unlocked was the ability to multiply every in-game coin by 24x. So, where they used to get scores in the 200,000 range, they now easily get millions or even billions.

I noticed one of my sons playing the other day and he had turned off the multiplier effect.

Why aren’t you using the multiplier?

It’s not as fun if you get the points too easily.

It made me think of Rocky Valentine. He wound up in a place where he could turn the multiplier up as high as he wanted, and like my son, he figured out that it’s the challenge that makes the game fun.

I don’t play a lot of games, but I really enjoy Spider Solitaire on my iPad.


The version I installed advertises that it has “Unlimited Undos.” And for a while it was great to be able to attempt a strategy and if it failed, simply hit the undo button multiple times and try something else.

But, a funny thing happened. The game lost it’s appeal. I didn’t win every time, but I was able to win enough that the results were rarely in doubt. I made one small decision and suddenly the game was challenging again.

I quit using the undo button.

I’ll use it occasionally if I slip and hit a card twice, sending it somewhere I didn’t plan to, but I no longer use the undo button to get a competitive advantage. Sometimes my playing strategy works and I win. Other times, I guess wrong and lose. But, somehow the wins feel more honest and satisfying, knowing that I chose to live with my decisions rather than constantly going back to fix mistakes.

In “Nice Place To Visit,” Rocky eventually figures out that getting everything you ever wanted means nothing if you didn’t work for it, and if there wasn’t a chance that you might fail.

My 30 year high school reunion was this summer. A friend asked if I’d go back and fix my mistakes if I could. Not a chance. They are way too valuable.

You’re not the only one who’s made mistakes
But they’re the only thing that you can truly call your own
– Billy Joel – You’re Only Human

Rodney M Bliss is an author, blogger and IT Consultant. He’s failed a lot, and learned something every time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and 13 children.

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