6 Life And Leadership Lessons From The Movie Pixels

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“Looks like all the time spent playing video games has paid off.”

I miss fun movies like I miss arcades. Thankfully, Pixels has a healthy dose of fun, laughs, and arcade nostalgia. A perfect Summer movie it’s lighthearted, comical, and serves as a love letter to those of us who grew up when the latest game was in the arcade, and DLC was not even a glimmer in a developer’s eye.

Warning: There will be spoilers in this post, so if you have not yet seen Pixels – go see it first. If you think that you would never see the movie, then continue on, you just might change your mind.

One of my unique skills is drawing leadership lessons from video games and movies about video games (by the way, I’ll be speaking at Podcast Movement on 8/1 about how you can find your own Podcast/blogging superpowers). So, it is only fitting that I share with you — 5 life & leadership lessons from the movie Pixels.

1.You Never Know How Your Childhood Interests May Lead You To Success

Brenner (played by Adam Sandler) was passionate about arcade games growing up, but at some point he lost his direction. He settled for less, by taking a job that he could do, but was not passionate about. Only when he is given the chance to apply the skills he learned in the arcade does his passion and purpose become clear. It finally clicks with him when he exclaims, “I’ve been training for this since childhood!”

When growing up, we are naturally pulled in the direction of our passion. We all have different hobbies or ways that we like to spend our time. Part of my story for starting this website involved me taking a careful look at the things that I enjoy. You can do the same too.

If you don’t feel like you are connecting to your work or purpose, take some time to think about all the areas of interest you have. How might you incorporate a bit more of what you like into your daily routine? How might the skills and knowledge that you have connect to a profession or line of work where you can help others with what you know?

2. Know The Rules Of The Game

Brenner was successful in the arcades because he took the time to observe and learn the rules of the game. This understanding was crucial when taking on the alien invaders in a game of Centipede. By default, the Marines fell back on their training, but success in Centipede required following a different set of rules to win. When Brenner picked up a light cannon and applied the patterns and rules that he understood, success was just a matter of time.

In the same way, whatever role you take in life has certain rules. When we understand what it takes to be successful at work, school, in a video game, or sports, we are then able to perfect our skills and reach new levels of success!

3. Have Fun

Like the video games it references, this movie is all about fun. In a particularly touching/humorous scene with Pac-Man’s creator, Toru Iwatani (portrayed by Denis Akiyama), we are reminded of his intention for the game. It’s about happiness, fun, and joy.

As a medium, video games are able to draw out a sense of flow – an enhanced state of focus and productivity where distractions melt away. Athletes also refer to this condition as being “in the zone.” Movies and video games alike can fall prey to so-called “critics” who can easily dismiss a fun or meaningful experience if it does not fit into their narrow definition of what it should be.

We all need to relax and unplug on a regular basis. Even if video games or movies are not your thing, be sure to find something: gardening, fishing, swimming, writing, or just going for long walks outside. It’s important to keep a healthy balance in your life.

And don’t forget to laugh.

4. A Positive-Can-Do-Attitude Is Better Than A Lightgun?

This line from the movie had me cracking up, mainly because there are many individuals who think that if you just have a positive mindset, anything is possible!

But that is not the full story.

You need resources, friends, support, timing, and even a bit of luck. You can sit around all day, thinking positive and nothing is going to happen. You need to take action, and you need to find or create the tools you need to do the job. Wishful thinking does not land you the job of your dreams, help you pass admissions into the school you wish to attend, or bring your soulmate into your life.

All three of those dreams require you to become the right person before they happen. What do I mean? If you want a promotion, are you doing more than you are paid to do today? If you want to get into a specific university, how are you letting the school know you are a perfect fit for them? And if you met your soulmate today, are you the kind of person they need in their life as well?

In other words: take action today, so when the opportunity presents itself you are prepared.

5. Teamwork Gets The Job Done

Fighting off the alien hordes required the combined effort of a team. Brenner looked to old friends, rivals, and new friends alike to overcome and save the day. When taking on the likes of Centipede, Pac-Mac, or Donkey Kong, each individual had a role to play. Teams celebrate wins together and also suffer the consequences of poor judgment together.

Successful teams put the overall mission before their own wants and needs, or even their own safety. This mindset creates an environment that other want to be a part of. Space Invaders are relentless, because they have a unified purpose. If you lead a team, consider how you can create a clear goal for the group. If you are part of a team, how can you better connect to the vision of the team?

6. Pretend You Are The Guy And You Don’t Want To Die

When Matty (Matt Lintz) was asked by Brenner about how to play the modern style of video games like The Last Of Us, he replied “just pretend you are the guy and you don’t want to die.” At first it sounds like it might just be referring to a “fight or flight” response, but it can actually be taken much deeper.

It’s the mindset I call “1 Life, No Continues.”

1 Life, No Continues is about that moment when we realize that everything is at stake. It is about the awareness that we only have one shot to make a difference in the world around us. It’s a mindset that challenges us to not miss a single opportunity in any area of our life. A person who stares at a TV screen is not playing a game. A person who does not live their own life to the fullest is no more involved.

Sandler and his crew literally “got into the game” in the movie Pixels. How might you do the same?

If you enjoyed the arcade games of the 80’s and you enjoy laughing, I strongly recommend you check out this film.

Have you seen Pixels yet? If so, I”d love to hear your thoughts.