25 Mar

Knowing What You Shouldn’t Do

HandshakeImagine you’ve got a company. You’re sitting in your office when you realize that it’s become quite cramped. And that storage room next door really isn’t all that useful. So you google the best deals on pneumatic hammers and start taking the wall down.

Or not.

Unless you’re in construction chances are you’d call someone who is. And that’s the way to do it – find someone who’s an expert and get them to do the job. But when it comes to our hobbies and private life we’re reluctant to do that. Monetizing what we’re doing outside of works somehow feels wrong.

I’m no better. I was brought up in the tried and true male “Ugh-go-bash-dinosaur-on-the-head-himself” format. Yeah, that’s fine in a subsistence economy but I’m not growing my own food (actually I am, but that’s another subject altogether).

But that’s going to change. It has to change if I want to have the time to design and playtest.

To start I need to reconsider how I’m looking at “help”. I’ve been taught, by implication, that one shouldn’t cry wolf. Do it yourself and ask for help only when you’re dying. That’s just plain stupid. People won’t mind if I ask for help, and if someone does there are plenty of other’s who won’t. I know, I’m one of them.

The past months I’ve been doing copywriting work for Edgars Zakis of Brain Games. I volunteered for the first job but after that he kept slipping pro-bono (that’s a fancy word for “for free”) work my way. And I’ve always appreciated it.

Not only did I get to do something I like and am good at (proofing rules, but I like any type of writing), but I got to do it in a genre that I’m interested in and, most importantly, I got to feel appreciated.

I know I’m not unique. If I like to help out others are bound to like it too. It’s not a question of “Hey, dude, you must work for free”, it’s a question of “Hi, could I help you?”. That’s a big difference. I’ve written about free will and gaming before (see Gaming: voluntarily performing impossible tasks of uncertain value) and this is no different. If I get to choose to do something I’m likely to enjoy it – and helping someone out at the same time is a big bonus, especially as humans are hardwired for altruism (at least according to some of the latest neuroscience).

Smiley ballSo this is my resolution for this year: I’m going to get better at asking for help. Not only help with art, which I’ve been thinking about, but also help with stuff like setting up my server (that takes way too much time now that I’m not on top of the tech curve any longer) and creating questionnaires. I’m going to do that so that I can spend more time on the things that I do enjoy, like writing and designing. And it will give me more time to give away to people who need my help.

That’s a win-win situation if I’ve ever seen one.

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