Life Lessons Learned from Video Games


I used to have a friend during my college days named Michael Stille; everyone called him White Mike though. White Mike was my freshman year roommate and one of the coolest people you could meet.  The more you knew him, the more you thought, “man, this boy is ghetto!” Looking back at it, I could see why Northwood paired us as roommates: we were both low-key guys who were somewhat selfish mama’s boys that just so happened to major in sports management.

Michael Stille: March 11, 1989 - September 29, 2011.

White Mike was an absolute pain to play video games with!  Whether it was Madden, NBA Live, or Fight Night, he always gave me (and mostly everyone else he played on campus) the business.  I could probably count on one hand the number of times I beat him in anything.  What would be more shocking is the margin of victory he had over me; I really think it exceeds the number on my paycheck I hope to get this Friday.  And it wasn’t like Mike would ever ease up.  You could be losing by several touchdowns, and he’d go all Bill Bellicheck on you and run up the score until the clock ran out.  I would shake my head in frustrution and leave his place thinking, “jerk!”

Judging from my previous posts, you could probably tell I really don’t like losing.  White Mike’s video game beatings had a way of humbling me.  Whatever confidence and skill I may’ve thought I had when I started was usually diminished by the time I finished playing him.  White Mike humbled me in another way recently (and unintentionally).  On September 29, he died in a car accident along with his sister’s fiance.  So unfortunate, because things were starting to pick up for him.  He was due to see his sister get married two days later, just interviewed for an internship, worked an Indianapolis Colts game, and even had him a girlfriend (you go Mikey!!!).  And yet, a freak accident took that all away.

In my last post (which seemed years ago), I talk about avoiding a sense of entitlement.  The best way you can do this is the same way White Mike beat me down in video games – staying humble.  Humility is a tricky concept to master.  Sometimes it’s confused with low self-esteem or putting yourself down.  Although to be humble is to lower yourself in importance, humility is not the absence of confidence.  Rather, humility diminishes our egos (which can also be an acronym for “edging God out) and allows us to keep an open mind.

You want to know what lead me to start abrothanamedCed?  Most of it stems from a humbling experience that came in the summer of 2009.  It was the summer going into my junior year and I had nothing going for me.  So, I thought to apply for this new government-funded Summer Youth Employment Program.  The first day I try to apply, I find that I don’t have the proper financial information; so they tell me to come back during Saturday.  I get to the office around 7:30 in the morning to see a line of what seemed like thousands of teens and young adults waiting for the process to begin.  I could go on for days about how unorganized the registration staff and process were!  I even saw a kid from Northwood working for registration.  That’s when my frustration turned into embarrassement.  There I was, standing in hours worth of lines, halfway finished with college, a nice GPA and a decent resume, with kids as old or older than me, who haven’t worked a legal job in their lives and some who didn’t even graduate high school.  The process took five hours, and I still had to catch the bus home from the southwest side.  But for all that unorganized chaos, I never got a call telling me to report to a job site.  Nothing.  Nada. Zero.  Just another boring wasted summer in the D.  That’s what I started to realize that I never want to feel so “not in-control” of my destiny again.

When I look back, I needed that summer to happen to me.  I had gotten too comfortable with my own skills and felt so content with my skills that I knew that someone out there would bend over backwords to hire me.  Having a friend like White Mike was something else I needed.  When you live long enough and surround yourself with new people, you’ll live to realize that someone, somewhere, is always better (or working to be better than) you.  And that, is what makes us humble – lowering your own self-importance and gaining respect and admiration for those who compete on the same, or grander scale, than you.  Memories of White Mike in his casket will always humble me, as well as the video game butt-kickings.  I hope that you too, will use your moments of humility to overcome your sense of entitlement.

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