It’s 6:45pm. Friday night. A small friend squad is at my house. We’re sitting around the table talking, eating, the usual.
After the snacks and chats it’s time for the main event – it’s game night bby.
I head to the shelf to pull out some of our go-tos: Camel Up, Catan, What Do You Meme?
My girlfriend, Emily, stops me. “Do you guys want to try a new game tonight?” She pulls a small silver box out of her purse. “I just picked this up at Target.”
I’ve never heard of this game, the box legit looks like a YA romance novel you find at the airport, there’s a woman on the front wearing a goofy dress, and the name… well you can judge it for yourself: Coup: The Dystopian Universe.
Before I can shut down this terrible idea, someone in the group agrees that we should give it a try. Traitor.
Soon Emily is handing out the pieces and reading the instructions. It might as well be in a foreign language.
“If you have a Duke you can block foreign aid, the Commander can steal coins, and block stealing. Also, you don’t have to have the card to use the card…”
I’m annoyed. I’m making eye contact with some of the others in the group and it looks like they’re feeling the same. It’s what they invented the 😬 emoji for.
The vibe is weird. It’s time to pull the plug. I suggest we play one of our normal games.
Emily ignores me and continues with the instructions…
It’s 11:35pm. That same Friday night.
We’ve finished the 9th round of Coup and everyone is having the time of their lives. There’s been yelling, laughing, betrayal, secret alliances, and 917 high fives and counting. After each round we all look around and unanimously agree to play again. We can’t get enough. It’s what they invented the 🙌🏼 emoji for.
I fire off a text to my family thread: Go find the game Coup and buy it NOW.
Not only was the game a hit that night, but it’s become a staple in every game night since. Our whole group is obsessed and we play it any chance we get.
And if I was in charge, none of us would have ever played it.
If I had been reading the instructions and sensed the awkward vibe of the group, I would have immediately packed the pieces back in the box and reached for the sure thing.
Luckily for us, Emily sat in the weird for a few more minutes. Pushing through that discomfort was all we needed to eventually figure out this magical game that’s brought so much value to our friend group.
Honestly, that’s learning in a nutshell.
So many skills live on the other side of feeling a little weird. And if we’re willing to sit in the weird for just a little longer, we can earn a skill that will help us forever.
(illustrated by: Mei Ratz)
Sure, it takes thousands of hours to master a skill. But we don’t have to master something for it to make a difference in our lives. In fact, I think we should spend more time getting kinda good at stuff. Let’s not let mastery become an enemy to learning.
If we can sit in the weird – practice a bit, struggle a bit – we can learn enough to be dangerous. Which can make a huge difference.
Feeling weird + 2-3 attempts = a new delicious meal that you can cook for the rest of your life
Feeling weird + a few extra nights after practice = a respectable jump-float serve
Feeling weird + a few hours of practice = riding a bike
Feeling weird + this podcast episode + a couple days of practice = you’re a better storyteller
Feeling weird + 45 min of poking around = my grandma can FaceTime all of the grandchildren
Feeling weird + some YouTube tutorials + a few weeks of practice = Alex Belser now gets paid to make videos like this
The ROI of learning is phenomenal: One trip to kinda good island earns us that skill for life.
Of course the magnitude of weird and the amount of practice is going to be different depending on the skill. But if the goal is to get to kinda good island, more skills are within our reach, and we can earn them relatively quickly – as long as we’re willing to sit in the feeling weird swamp.
5 point summary:
2. It doesn’t take that long to get kinda good
3. Getting kinda good at something can create a major change
4. Once we earn the skill, it’s ours forever
5. Once we get kinda good, we’ll start doing it more, and we’re on the path to getting really good
Coup is a great game. Thank you, Emily