Nick Wakeman


Lessons from the game of life

One of my guilty pleasures is playing solitaire on my iPhone. It is a mindless diversion, like eating potato chips.

But recently, an upgrade added a new feature that has changed my perspective Some games now come starred so you know that someone earlier was dealt the same hand and won.

At first, I just sort of ignored this until I realized I was often losing these games. Now I’ll hit replay when I get stuck and play the hand again and again and again.

I’ve discovered something fascinating. You start with the identical hand, but the individual games can be extremely different based on the different choices you make. Timing and luck also play a role in making the games unique.

Kind of like life.

I was reminded of this phenomenon recently when I went to my 30th high school reunion. Early in the evening, we went around and each of us took a few minutes to say what we were doing now.

There are a couple full-time farmers, a doctor, a couple teachers, a construction superintendent, an insurance agent, a cop, an IT manager for a small town police department, a human resources manager, and a proud, stay at home grandma. We all started with the same educational foundation, but life has taken us all in such different directions.

It is the same kind of diversity you would probably find out almost any high school reunion. But it is remarkable to me how one decision sets you onto a certain direction.

One of my closest friends from high school didn’t go to college until he was in his mid-to-late 20s. Today, he has a master’s degree and is an assistant superintendent in one of the largest school systems in California. Going to school after working for nearly a decade helped him value education differently than if he had gone to college at age 18.

As we finish up our Fast 50 issue, I think about the people behind these fast growing small businesses. I think about Rocky Cintron, founder of Force3 and the subject of our Last Byte interview.

The profiles we have in this issue in some ways are like the stories you hear at a reunion – minus the embellishments, of course. They are stories of how decisions and timing and, yes, the luck of the draw all play a role in what happens in your life and what will drive your success.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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