What Asteroids Can Teach You About Being A Rich Employee

life lessons from video games james altucher rich employee

Asteroids happens to be a video game that James Altucher (Choose Yourself) mentioned recently, so I can’t help but take up the challenge to discuss how his latest book The Rich Employee aligns with principles found in the video game Asteroids.

If you don’t already know who he is, James Altucher is basically the uncle or neighbor I’ve always wanted. He’s eccentric, honest, and redefines “Thinking outside of the box.” He also says a fair amount of things that I don’t fully agree with. But he has a lot of great things to say, especially things that challenge me to think bigger.

And he’s a lot of fun.

Back to the game. Asteroids is a classic video game in every since of the word. It remains a game that decades after its launch, it still remains very playable in a retro sort of way. This is the game that even your uncle would enjoy playing.

You play as a triangle-shaped spaceship that can shoot stuff, turn left or right, power its main thruster, and in an emergency use a hyperspace teleport that can be as dangerous as it is helpful.

You play a few rounds, thanks to Andy (@ krakatomato)
Controls: Arrow keys to move ship [ Left, Right],  [Up] to use the thruster [S] to start the game [Z] to fire a missile and [SPACE] to hyperspace.

So what does Asteroids have to do with being a “Rich Employee?”

And what does being a “Rich Employee” even mean?

The Rich Employee proves that you don’t need to quit your day job to enjoy the life of your dreams. At the moment, being an entrepreneur is a glamorous endeavor, and a fair amount of individuals I know think that the ultimate freedom is quitting your job and working for yourself.

But that’s not for everyone. Especially since 85% of startups fail.

The Asteroids’ Guide To Being A Rich Employee

1.  Just Do Something

Like any game, you have to get started. We put things off, we procrastinate, we wait for conditions to be just perfect. Stop. Breath. Start something. Anything. What to see how easy it is? Scroll back up to the playable Asteroids game in this post, click on it, then hit [s] on your keyboard.

See how easy that was?

In the Rich Employee, James gives lists filled with actionable ideas, no matter where you are starting from: Where you just hired in a new job? Were you just fired from a previous job? Or maybe you are in a job that you are not crazy about? The key in all three scenarios is to get started.

2. Create Momentum

In Asteroids, momentum is important. It takes a while to get used to the controls. Getting up to full speed takes a little time, and controlling your ship as it goes hurling through space takes some practice.

But once you have good momentum, you can quickly turn and make adjustments.

James regularly share his own emotional rollercoaster of a journey. Sometimes you take a major hit that leaves you lying in the dirt, crying, ready to give up. At this point you have no momentum, or negative momentum. When we hit our low points, or the points where we don’t feel like doing anything, we feel the full weight of physics.

“Bodies at rest, tend to stay at rest.”
The solution? You can find a pretty good one down in point number 4.

3. UFOs Want to Kill You

As you are flying along in your little spaceship, blowing up meteors, you finally feel like you’ve got the hang of things. You know the controls, you have momentum, and you are in a state of flow.

Out of nowhere, a nasty little UFO shows up and starts shooting at you. Why? Who knows. You’re not hurting anyone, just blowing up asteroids and minding your own business.

Maybe he’s just a jerk.

What ever the case, there are at least two of the guys who have nothing better to do than fly around asteroid belts and take cheap shots. One of the UFO doesn’t even try to aim! He just starts throwing missiles in any direction.

Serious jerk move.

And maybe you know someone like this in real life, at work, or on the highway? Maybe it’s a co-worker who has a “poor employee” mindset?

The Poor Employee mindset hates that you are doing something. You’re making them look bad. They are happy with the status quo. They resent your momentum. They blame, procrastinate, and engage in victim thinking.

If you hear someone say “I’m just here for the paycheck,” you need to keep your distance.
Avoid them at all costs.

4. Choose Yourself

When you first start a game of Asteroids, you are faced with the task of destroying 4 large spacerocks. Just 4 is manageable. It’s not overwhelming, and once you find your groove, it feels great to blow up all the pieces.

Imagine if the game started out with dozens of little rocks flying around? It would be confusing and you would die a lot.

In the same way, we often make life too complicated. We try to fix everyting that is wrong with us, in every area of our life, all at the same time.

Then we fail. Then we tell ourselves we’re a failure. Then we believe it. It sucks.

But it does not have to be that way. Keep it simple, and as James says “choose yourself” and focus on improving just 1% each day in these four areas:

  • Physical Health – Eat, Sleep, Move
  • Emotional Health – Trying to always be with people who love and support you
  • Mental Health – become an Idea Machine by practicing writing down 10 ideas a day. (James credits this for changing his life every 6 months (check out Become An Idea Machine by Claudia Altucher, his wife for another great book)
  • Spiritual Health – Practicing gratitude whenever you can

life lessons from video games leadership james altucher

Simple, right?

Get Off Your Asteroid

Looking for a change in direction or a boot in momentum? I recommend checking out the Rich Employee – if you pick up the ebook on Amazon right now, it’s only $0.99. That’s less than playing 4 games of Asteroids in an arcade (remember those?).

Having a Rich Employee mindset can make all the difference in the world. And ultimately, if you don’t enjoy the game, don’t play. If you lose, just start a new game. Or change games.

Or go play Poker for a year. James Altucher did.