What Lara Croft Can Teach You About Your Career

This week’s post is a joint article from Monica Ryan, an artist who is part of the My Big Year mentoring group, and me. During one of our recent calls, we talked about risk-taking and what it really means to step outside your comfort zone. She has some great points, so read on and enjoy!

From Monica:

I love video games, and Tomb Raider is my favorite. I love the open world that I get to explore through Lara Croft. I love solving puzzles, taking on side missions, and searching for objects to randomly destroy. Oh yeah – and killing zombies, wolves and dinosaurs? I consider that a perk.

In Tomb Raider, players are encouraged to explore the world. The game goes beyond completing the tasks set before Lara; players can go way off track and find many rewards and side quests simply from wandering around.

The fun and interesting parts of the experience lie within the search. Kinda sounds like life, doesn’t it?

Are You Afraid to Die?

I remember my aunt commenting once on how the younger generation took on gaming. "You know, you guys are doing so well because you're not afraid to die." 

As I play Tomb Raider today, I notice that the more willing I am to take risks and potentially kill Lara, the higher my reward. In death, I learn more about the game. I figure out what works and what doesn’t... and am able to win big because I'm not afraid to play full out.

Her comments really touched me, and I thought about how Lara serves as an extension of myself. When Lara completes a mission, I feel accomplished. When Lara shoots down bears and hawks with flaming arrows, I feel triumphant. In the same way, when Lara falls, I fall. 

But Lara never really dies. I know that just beyond her horrible death, there’s another Lara avatar waiting for me with full health at my last save point.

So there’s really only one choice: to take the risk. What have you got to lose?

Death = Failure

Monica is onto something. If we use Monica’s analogy, Lara’s video game death is the equivalent of a real-life failure. I equate Lara jumping off a cliff to me doing a drop-off at a new CD’s office. I might get to shake hands with the CD and begin a new, wonderful relationship... or I might walk in at exactly the wrong moment and annoy everyone.

I could either fall to my death or catch on to the next ledge and bring myself closer to the treasure.

If I’m not afraid to “die” – if I’m not afraid of getting the side eye from a casting assistant – I’m much more likely to have success. And with each attempt, I learn more and get better at the game.

So, when you find yourself facing the choice of taking a risk, what will you do? Will you jump to find out what happens – or will you play it safe? If Lara Croft teaches us anything, it’s that the best way to play isn’t to stay safe – the best way to play is to take risks and engage fully.  

Courtney Rioux, The Whole Artist coaches actors and other creative talent who feel stuck in their career and want more out of life. She's here to help you shift your mindset from stuck and unhappy to empowered and joyful — all while making it feel fun and easy. It’s like therapy without the therapy.