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.