Career growth is not a video game
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - November 15, 2020 - 12:00am

I was a sucker for arcade video games. I remember spending a lot of money playing “Space Invaders,” “Galaga,” and “Pac-Man.” Coins were necessary, so whether I was addicted or not, my addiction level was directly proportionate to the number of coins I had. I did not have much, so it is safe to say that I was not that heavily addicted.

Today’s video games are ubiquitous. You do not need coins, but just strong internet connections, a gamer’s devices, and the games are so sophisticated, no wonder so many young people (including some not-so-young ones) are addicted to it. Somebody says: “In 2019, if you were unemployed and stayed home all-day playing video games, you were a lazy bum. In 2020 this would make you a responsible adult.” And when you confront adults who keep on playing video games day in day out, this is how they explain away: “Computer games are said to be a bad influence on kids.” “Nonsense.” says the adult. “My generation grew up playing Pac-Man, but did we end up dashing around dark rooms and swallowing white dots while listening to electronic music?” Now how is that for justification?

Before COVID-19 rudely interrupted our lives and when the economy was strong, the common complaint I got from HR people and business owners was, “These young millennials are so impatient. They work here and in less than just two years, they expect to be promoted to a higher position. And when they sense that they are not going to get one, then they quit and start looking for another job.”

During the pre-COVID era, jobs were easy to find, and talents were hard to acquire. The pandemic, of course, changed all that. Suddenly jobs are scarce, and retrenchments happened.

The question is, where did these young millennials get this impatient and entitlement mentality expecting quick promotions?

Business gurus and HR people theorize that this attitude is indicative of how they play video games. Now that they have completed a level, they can’t wait to go to the next one, and some would even get their “cheats” to go there faster. Another factor to consider is that these young millennials grew up in an environment of explosive growth in the BPO or call center industries. They heard their friends worked there barely a year or two and were promoted to “Team-Lead” positions while others were made “managers” in charge of clusters. These young millennials must have thought that this was the default mode of careers and employment.

The pandemic has caused a significant shift in mindsets and thinking. Today, the millennials (who are not so young anymore) hear sad stories of friends who have lost their jobs. Many begin to be thankful that they still get to keep theirs without taking a pay cut. It is incredible to realize that we do not appreciate the value of things (or even people) until they are taken away from us.

This is the time to be grateful and not to be impatient. Computer games may have conditioned our minds to level up quickly or get “cheats” to enter a higher level quickly, but a computer game is a game, and it is not life. Life does not work this way. Success is still old fashioned. It requires a process of consistent behavior, a positive attitude, and a determination to improve while focusing on the task at hand and delivering beyond expectations. In other words, a constant albeit slow process of pursuing excellence while trudging and plodding to get to the next level. Eyes fixed on the goal, head focused on the work at hand, and hands doing hard work to get to their success destinations. This principle is timeless and it is still at work today. Mabel Newcomber says: “It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly.”

Computer games are virtual and do not necessarily reflect reality. The pandemic and the world we have today is real life, and we would not be able to wish it away or push a reset button so that the game restarts. I still play computer games today, but I understand the difference between what is virtual and what is real, and please do not laugh at me. I am lousy at games, maybe because, just like life itself, I would not go for “cheats.” And you should not too.



(Connect with Francis Kong at Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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