13 years ago, my little boy went to his first easter egg hunt.
Racing around to pick up cheap plastic toys filled with gross candy was his idea of a wonderful time, and he enjoyed himself thoroughly.
As usual, I discovered myself painfully out of the mainstream. While everyone else’s parents seemed mainly to be there to make sure their kid got a whole bunch of easter eggs, my main goal was to encourage my kid not to steamroll anybody else’s kids.
He did fine on the easter egg front. He got four — when you’re 2 1/2, that’s a great haul. But the whole event got me thinking about how people view success, especially material success.
A lot of us look at jobs, wealth, and material stuff as being like that easter egg hunt. There’s a finite number of eggs on the ground. We’re surrounded by a large group of amoral, voracious toddlers primed for action. When we get the signal to go, we race around snatching up as many eggs as possible. And we don’t take any time to notice who we elbow out of the way. Because when those eggs are gone, they’re gone.
There is actually another way to play the game.
Make your own eggs
During my little boy’s nap, I hid some more eggs around the house. I found some nicer metal ones that he could play with for a long time. (He had a weird fascination with easter eggs.) I put better stuff in them, stuff that he was actually interested in
(Side note: What kind of monster puts Laffy Taffy in eggs for a toddler hunt? Note to all you easter egg hunt planners out there: toddlers are not physically able to eat Laffy Taffy. Although Carla makes a very fair defense of it in the comments.)
When you’re freaking out because the good stuff seems scarce — and, honestly, maybe even not very good — consider how you might be able to step out of the game.
Instead of applying for jobs, make up a job and pitch it. Instead of jockeying with competitors selling the same junk you do, and letting Wal*Mart annihilate all of you on price, come up with something entirely new to do.
Make something no one else knows how to make. Do something no one else knows how to do. Create interesting conversations around that. Develop relationships with customers who become raving fans and bring their friends in for more of what you do.
If you’re chasing Laffy Taffy, think about what it’s doing for you. It’s possible that its only benefit is to keep your competition busy chewing on nonsense while you make something cool.
Step out of everyone else’s game and make one of your own. It’s a lot more fun, and the treats are better as well.
Related reading: Here’s a post I wrote for Copyblogger with some thoughts on how to drill down on “your own game” — Steal This Trick.
Editorial Note: No disrespect to Laffy Taffy, a perfectly fine candy for persons over three years old. Also, this post has been edited for 2021, a time in which my small toddler has become a surprisingly large teenager.
Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash
I agree. But finding and communicating that thing; that’s not easy, at least for me.
Brian Clark says
Sounds so easy!
It makes me want to find something new to do!
Sonia Simone says
Evan, I’m with you, I find it very hard. It’s one of those annoying “simple but really difficult” things. You’ll get there.
I love this post. We really do have the capacity to create the jobs we want in this changing economy.
Totally awesome metaphor! (This makes me sound like I just stepped out of Bill & Ted…)
Geez, perfectly written. You even gathered up the Laffy Taffy loose ends as you finished.
Perfect advice for potentially rocky times. It’s like a game of musical chairs where somebody keeps taking away two or three at a time right now. Step out of the game!
By the way, when my daughter was little I was the same way, teaching her not to steamroll (trying!) while being appalled at the greedy little buggers all around. She’s nine now and the difference does show, so keep right on like you are. You’ll be proud later.
Nadine T. says
This is a wonderful post. I’ve SU’d it because I think that your blog really deserves huge readership, we have a lot to learn from you.
I relate totally to this idea, and the older I get, the more I believe in what you are advocating.
Sonia Simone says
Nadine, thank you so much! (Barbara, Nadine, you should read each other’s blogs, I think you would enjoy one another.)
Christine Chen says
This is wonderful! I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to add a little snipit of your post to my blog tonight with a link back to the article! It’s definitely worth everyone’s time to read it!
Sonia Simone says
Thanks Christine! I love links. 🙂
Sonya, a few weeks ago, my 2 1/2 year old son (July 22 — when’s yours?) and 1 1/2 year old daughter (1 year and 4 days apart — hehe) ran the gambit with 20 other egg grubbin’ kids. My personal oversite committee goal was to encourage both behaviors if either manifested. In otherwords, it’s ok to recognize the motivation to win or get more as long as you are polite and kind. My secret desire is to teach that you get more than you need when you help others get what they want first.
Frankly, my son’s stash topped out at 4 eggs too, largely because the toy car in the back yard of the house next door had an eerie magnetic pull that a swarm of egg-hunting peers could not overcome.
Great post. It’s so easy to do the same thing every day – it’s much harder to walk down a different block or go to a different coffee shop or take a different bus.
Christine Perkett says
I love this. Brilliant. I wish we could find thinkers like you to hire!
Tara Jacobsen says
I got here because of a link from Seth’s blog and am so happy I did! I have the privledge of having lots of seekers in my circle of friends (intentionally) so I am constantly being challenged to be more interesting, more informed and more involved!
Sonia Simone says
@Rick, cool, my guy was June 22. Soul brothers. 🙂 And I’m with you (it’s really funny how much this silly event got me thinking), I want him to be competitive, but I want that competition to rest on a solid ethical foundation. It is a little-known fact that I am, actually, insanely competitive myself.
@Christine, hey, I’m available!
@Tara, I’m so happy you found my little place! Hope you stick around and make yourself comfortable.
I know I’m way behind on my RSS feeds, but I’ve been planning an Easter egg hunt (yes, I have) for the past several months.
Okay, first . . . do you know how hard it is to find the appropriate sized candy to fit in Easter eggs in mass quantities? Harder than you would think.
Hard candy is out. They might choke on it.
So is chocolate. It would be complete mush in the Houston heat, even in March.
So that leaves some kind of chewy candy and we try to get a variety and while we didn’t have Laffy Taffy, there were Honey Bits.
We’ve tried stickers and tattoo’s . . . which people bitched about.
Yes, they do.
Thank you for being a parent who watches out for their child. Seriously, it is amazing to me how many don’t. Or maybe they do and just have no character themselves.
Seriously, we have an egg limit instead of the mad dash for eggs and I can’t believe how many kids were in there grabbing up all they could with their parents watching on.
I had to put my Egg Nazi hat on again and make them put them back.
Sonia Simone says
Ah, good point! We had some hershey’s kisses for our hunt, which are good in Denver because it’s never more than about 45 on Easter morning here.
I find it very heartwarming to have an Egg Nazi commenting on my blog.
Joe Crawford says
Sorry for coming to the game so late! This is some really good stuff!!
Daniel Edlen says
I agree with Brian. A winner of a post, obviously by the attention it’s gotten.
My new grabber is somehow going to be “every piece has a story”. I mean I already write a blog post for just about every piece. Kind of like an electronic provenance.
Daniel Edlens last blog post..VA™ – Now I Can Merchandise Vinyl Art!
Kevin Udy says
As long as someone like you brings their kids up to avoid treading all over everyone else to get at what they want in life, there is some hope at the very least, that the tide of greed will at least meet with some resistance.
The only drawback that I can see, and it sometimes seems to be a considerable one to carry, is that caring about others can lead to a much harder life. Treading on others, and elbowing them out of the way without regard or regret is a road to an easier life. When I’m struggling with playing a straight wicket, having concern for others, and helping where I can, and sometimes where I can’t too, it seems like a damn hard way of living.
I can remember a time in my late-teenage yoof, when I kinda rolled along in a more selfish way, thinking of number one and just having a good time, without much concern for anyone else. It seems the only time I was truly carefree in life, and happy every day I woke up. Rose tinted glasses, maybe, and I guess you have to factor in the optimistic element of youth, but undoubtedly being selfish lightens the load a lot.
Having said that, I wouldn’t swop who I am for the lives of those I know, who are far more successful, happier, and less concerned for anyone than themselves and their ‘game plan’. Nope, not for a minute, and I guess it’s because I love having the depth that comes with leaving some eggs on the ground for someone else, and helping those who are struggling to keep up to gather up a few more for themselves.
A smile from them every now and then, and a heartfelt ‘Thankyou’ sure makes up for a lot.
There’s a saying I’m sure you know….. it says something like this:-
“The measure of a man is how he treats someone who is of no obvious use to him.”
(‘man’ = woman, person, whatever floats your boat) :o)
My father brought me up to that example, and it’s about the best I can think of to live by.
I wish I’d realised how wise, and ‘right’ he was when I was younger. (Now 55 and bleddy counting!!!)
Ramblings of a Woman says
This is an incredible way to look at what is going on in our current economy. I tell people everyday that the ones who are going to come out on top in the end are the ones who put themselves out there and MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Here’s a short story that is not star-studded, but proves a point. A young woman in my area went to school to become a medical assistant, along with 10,000 others who have gone to school for the same thing during the recession. When she graduated, instead of waiting around and answering help wanted ads, she called every doctor’s office within her driving distance and asked for their fax number. She made sure her resume and cover letter were in great shape, and faxed it to all those numbers. She had a job within a week! So what about the other 9,999? They are probably sitting online, submitting a resume here or there and hoping someone will call them.
Frankie Cooper says
I’m ready to go on my Easter egg hunt now and make something different of my own and step out of everyone else game and make one of my own. Great stuff!
Roland Fisher says
Best blue ocean strategy explanation in ever. But, even more than that.
I want to know how everyone that commented managed to make their own business easter eggs after reading this post back in 2008!