Remember Rule Number 6

Ben Zander

Lighten up, Matt. Stop taking things so seriously. Relax once in a while.

I hear that too often.

General managers face the brunt of many things. Mislooted items, irritated players, you name it. Their frustration inevitably transfers over to me. Aside from that, I put up with random ribbing, name calling, insults and all sorts of flak that rolls in. On a day to day basis, my stress levels are being constantly tested. To the raid, it’s like a game. How shall we pop one of Matt’s veins today? Trains are dropped just to set me off.

“My love for someone is directly proportional to how much I make fun of them.” Says an officer.

Of course, at this point, I’m thinking the guild must really like me.

I have a history of being uptight. My friends are always telling me to calm down and relax. I hardly take any time to rest or relax (probably because my idea of relaxing is doing work). Have a glass of wine, they say. Except, I haven’t quite acquired the test of it. White wine I can handle. Red? Not so much.

A guildie recommended me a book by Benjamin Zander. I blogged about him before. His book’s called The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

Rule number 6: Don’t take yourself seriously. Lighten the mood up.

Humor helps. Laughing can unite everyone’s personality, flaws, and mistakes. Especially when we feel like we are entitled to something, insulting someone, or just wanting to wring that other guy’s neck.

Here’s a funny story from the book that inspired the title of this post.

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: “Peter,” he says, “kindly remember Rule Number 6,” whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: “Marie, please remember Rule Number 6.” Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: “My dear friend, I’ve seen many things in my life, but never anything remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?” “Very simple,” replies the resident prime minister. “Rule Number 6 is ‘Don’t take yourself so g—damn seriously.” “Ah,” says his visitor, “that is a fine rule.” After a moment of pondering, he inquires, “And what, may I ask are the other rules?”

“There aren’t any.”

Now I just need to remember this rule myself. In the end, it’s a game with real people people behind the avatars that you’re playing with. I can’t always approach problems with a scowl on my face.

Watch this other video by Ben about leadership. It’s a talk he conducted in 2008 in the World Economic Forum. It’s only 9 minutes long. Some if it overlaps with the TED talk I linked above.

How fascinating!

And he got a whole room to sing Ode to Joy. I think. Is that in German? I wonder if I can get my guild to pull that off.

20 thoughts on “Remember Rule Number 6”

  1. One of the worst things you can have to deal with as a player or co-raid leader is a raid lead who pops a fuse regularly. Especially one who pops a fuse at trivialities. Raid leaders getting overly ranty is something I do not deal with well – I left one guild due to it – and I have only found it to have a negative effect in general to raids and playing. Even if you’re all chilled outside of raids, people do not forget what you say when you’re angry.

    I do not play a game to be abused and I do not consider anyone my social ‘better’ but my social equals – even if they’re a ‘super amazing awesome player’ or a completely crap one. People are people and deserve to be treated as such.

    You’d be amazed at how a quietly spoken request will work compared to a shouted demand, too.

    Of course we have a ban on train sets in raids on penalty of dkp loss 😛

  2. What is it with the hostile comments?

    Our guild environment is one in which good-natured teasing and joking is a constant. I love it. Matt happens to be a little more energetic than most raiders, so he’s a frequent target. For me, I’m downright lethargic sometimes and I get made fun of for that–or else for my love of cute things.

    Our raid leader trapped me into admitting a liking for Taylor Swift songs. It was a mean, dirty trick, and I appreciated its deviousness. 🙂

    @ Boourns: you should be ashamed of yourself. I’ve taught students with Asperger’s. It’s a serious problem and not a joking matter. Everyday interactions with others are a challenge for these students, and it’s disrespectful of them and their struggles to throw the name of their disorder around lightly. Is this the new “retarded?”–because I hate that too.

    I’ll tell you that none of those students could have built an entire online organization on the strength of personality and charisma, which is exactly what Matt did. He built a raiding guild–a good one, mind you, capable of clearing and farming Sarth 3D–out of the friends and acquaintances he was able to make on-server and through blogging. I’d say he’s extremely socially adept. Early on, the only thing that connected the various guild members was that we each had a friendship with Matt–how’s that for a proof of someone’s capability in social settings? Matt’s a lot better networker than I am, and I’m a foreign language teacher, so communicating with others is my most important job skill.

  3. I know I used to suffer a lot from those same type of worries — dealing with bad pulls, bad loot, idiot mistakes, etc… I got super stressed, to a point where I had actually quit WoW for quite a while (pre-BC..oh boy that was a while ago) and thought that would help. However, I realized the stress in WoW was just a manifestation of my behavior towards things in general.

    I would fixate on the past or the future, unable to live in the present. After reading a book called The Precious Present by Spencer Johnson a lot of things changed. I highly recommend you check it out, its an extremely quick read (like…forty five minutes if you read super slow) and is incredibly powerful and inspirational.


    Dougs last blog post..Doug_Williams: @veneretio It is really hard to be willy-nilly on that fight. Healers need to be strict within their assignment.

  4. My raid environment has got to the point at times that they’ve started making fun of me and seeing if they can get a reaction out of me. It can be healthy, fun, but eventually you hit a point where it goes too far and you have to put people in their place.

    That being said, normally I’ve very much the guy that makes fun of people. That’s definitely how I show I care about them. It’s safe to say, you’ve “made it” in our raid when I’ve made fun of you.

    My biggest kicker though is being silly is great and all… until we wipe. Once that happens, it’s time to turn off the stupid and to focus. We have a very limited amount of time to raid, we aren’t going to spend it wiping on trash pulls.

    All that said, this post is a great reminder. Whether you treat raiding as a game or a business… remember rule #6. Thanks, bud 🙂

    Veneretios last blog post..It snuck up on us… we’re Amazing Add Tanks

  5. The triains! Why do they drop the trains?!! In my dreams at night… choo choo… /weep

    But for reals, I’ve never been in a raid leader position, but I can imagine how frustrating it must be. Not only do you have to focus on your own job and get stuff done, you have to watch 24 other people and hold the hands of new people and make sure to keep the environment light without letting it get out of hand and sloppy which leads to wipes and then more trains!! ALWAYS WITH THE TRAINS!

    *ahem* In other words, I feel for you Matt, don’t let the choo choo make your raids poo poo, that’s my philosophy.

    Holy Duegs last blog post..The Story of Fail Sauce

  6. As a GM, one thing that may not be clear to members of the guild is how much pride you can take in having something you made actually work. For Matt, it was building a raiding guild out of nothing. For me, its been keep a guild intact since November of 2004. When something, ANYTHING, isn’t working with the guild, it ultimate falls on my shoulders to make it right. In that sense, it’s much like being the owner of a small business. When something you work hard for doesn’t work, it makes ya mad.

    That being said, I’ve learned the hard way that the worst thing you can do as a GM is let the frustration boil over into how you sound and how you act. A guild takes its cues from its leadership. If a raid is being lead with a negative mindset, it will be reflected in performance. So, when I find myself “typing angry” or getting ready to go off on someone in vent, I try to take a breath and curtail the emotion before going on. I feel bad for my wife, as she has to listen to my uncurtailed rants, but hey, that’s what marriage is for.

    Note, I’m not saying you can’t call people out. But there are ways to do it that won’t spike up your blood pressure.

  7. If you are serious about being not serious, I recommend something a bit sillier and more well known than the words to “ode to joy.”

    …Maybe the “Time Warp” From Rocky Horror. That totally happened spontaneously after Sarth 3D the other night.

    Of course, it helps that our raid leader breaks spontaneously out into song himself.

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  9. I agree with ven, as that is how my raiding experience is like. Currently, I am 2nd in command ion my guild, with some times acting as the guild leader due to the leaders’s work schedule. I am also the raid leader usually.

    We usually get along really well, with no one blowing fuses, until someone decides to toe the line. Unlike what mallet thinks, I am pretty much a quiet person, so when you hear yelling on vent, you know someone has stepped on my tail one too many times. 🙂

    Though, I am starting to think they are doing it on purpose, after hearing a comment about how I am “cute when angry”? o_O

    Wukkis last blog post..Does Gender Effect Your Guild Leadership Success?

  10. Singing Beethoven as an organized guild activity? Yes please!

    I don’t know all the words to Beethoven’s 9th, but the fun of music, especially a foreign language, in a private setting (car, shower, etc) is you can make up words or syllables or just noises. And the beauty of German opera is you get to bellow at the top of your lungs.

    Combine private setting, made up noises, and bellowing, and you’ve pretty much defined one of my favorite stress-relief activities 🙂

    For added cool points, try singing the whole song using only the word “meow” and picture a whole choir of cats with little Harlem Boy’s Choir gowns and holding candles in their paws. And I’m not even a cat guy. Welcome to my strange and twisted world.

    Amavas last blog post..ORA2 Tank Frame Misdirection Addon?

  11. Matt,

    I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts about guild functions and the responsibilities of a GM. Your passion for guild progression and the game in general is well reflected in your daily blogs. Pay no attention to those who decide to pick on something that you excel at. They just need to have more understanding for what you bring to the WoW community. Keep up the good work.

    P.S. I miss Wyn and her insight. I hope she’s doing okay.

  12. @ Matt

    German Riesling and Gewurtztraminer are two great white wines to relax with. If you ever venture off into red wine territory, older red wines are more palatable because there is less tannin (that gives red wines their color but also much of their bitterness) and more of the subtle fruit flavor.


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