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I waited for Mark Cerny to introduce me to a theatre of 3,000 people in Cologne, Germany, gathered for the PlayStation press event for Gamescom 2013, and what I'm told was a live online audience of over a million people. I went through my ritual, as I had practiced.
Then, Nainan Shah, my VP stopped me. This was not in my script, but he looked me in the eye and with a rare emphasis whispered "Shahid, you're not going to do well... you're going to do great. I'm always right about these things". My emotions went from terror to complete confidence in the space of his short pep talk. It was risky, but it was a stroke of genius. He had never said anything like it, and he wasn't that kind of man, or so I thought. I will never forget the impact it had on me.
I bounded up the stairs with a smile, as I had practiced, but with a relaxed confidence that comes only when you realise you have everyone that matters on your side.
My first ever talk at a global PlayStation presser went so well that Andy House and Mark Cerny who were watching me on the screens backstage were complimentary, and that's putting it mildly. Mark looked at me and said with a soft smile to Andy, "We've created a monster!"
After the event was over, I was getting congratulated by everyone. I was in a state of mild euphoria, the kind you experience when you've just escaped a potentially fatal accident on a motorbike, and I say this from experience. I lost count of the number of people I saw and spoke with after the presser, but it was one of the great highlights of my career, and I miss that energy.
I'm getting tired of lockdown. I know I'm not alone. Even introverts need people from time to time, we just need a little bit more time to recover our personal energy once we've poured it into social interaction. If you saw my Gamescom 2013 presentation, you might think it strange for me to admit that I'm an introvert, but introversion is easy to hide and doesn't fall into the stereotypes many of us still have about it. I'll say it again, I'm tired of lockdown and I think it's because people give me energy, human interaction gives me energy, and I find myself lacking energy right now.
I'm counting my blessings, because I have a family and I have some human interaction every single day. Many don't, and are vulnerable. Others still, have perished alone through this heartbreaking disaster of a pandemic. That said, I know I'm not alone in how I feel, and some of you might need a steer on what to do. I'm going to offer you three suggestions. I hope they help.
Talk to people you like on a video call, especially friends. You don't need a reason. Many people like us, mild introverts, are waiting to be invited. Be the one who invites. A few days ago I was feeling particularly blue, but after a friendly call with a client, my spirits lifted.
If you genuinely can't think of anyone to talk with, set up some time with me.
If you don't normally play games online, find a friend or colleague and play a game with them using voice chat. I did this too a couple of weeks ago for a few evenings and I'm glad I did. (Thanks, Spencer!)
Note, this doesn't have to be a co-op shooter, I play online board games with some old friends from time to time, with a Twitch feed running. It's slow-paced, so there's space for conversation. It's wonderful.
Focus on one thing at a time. You don't have multiple priorities, priority makes no more sense as a plural than "first" does.
One of the things that I grudgingly like about our American cousins is that their sports tend not to have the idea of a tie. They have play-offs. There is only one winner. A draw just means that we continue with the status quo, the champion remains the champion, and the fight might as well never have happened. And it's the same with your work. If you have more than one priority, you have no priority and guess what gets done? That's right, not much.
Focus on one thing. Make a decision on what that one thing is that you need to do now and ideally, finish it before moving on to the next thing, or until it's not physically possible for you to do any more work on it.
Now why is focus important at a time like this? Well, there has likely never been a time in your life when outside forces have impinged on your life so heavily. That makes it hard to remember that the only thing you can do is the one thing you should be doing right now, and absolutely nothing else.
If you have some tactics of your own, please share them below. Now, I work hard on this newsletter every week, and while like the NHS, it’s free at the point of use, it isn’t without cost. So if you haven’t subscribed, please do.
If you can share it with someone who you think could benefit, better still.
Until next week!