Candy Crush Clairvoyance

Several months ago, my Mac drove me crazy for a week. It worked fine at home but I couldn't get on the Internet at work. Every morning I'd troubleshoot the issue trying different things. Eventually it would work and I'd be able to browse. The basic issue seemed to be DNS, but there was no obvious resolution. On the fourth day, I walked in the office and opened my laptop. That's when it struck me. The only consistent element to its eventually working was time. So I opened Chrome and walked to a meeting with the error displayed. I made no attempts to connect. I came back a half hour later to Google's homepage and it worked the rest of the day. (As an aside, I eventually cleared Chrome's local DNS cache for a more permanent solution. There were a few red herrings along the way.)

Shifting gears, don't tell anyone, but I have been known to play Candy Crush. And what I've noticed is that the problem-solving in that game is similar to the problem-solving and intuitive insight I used to realize what was really going on with my Mac. Game number 140 is a good example. Knock out 99 each of three colors with 45 moves. After a few failed attempts, it was clear that I had to take out many more at a time than I had been. (NERD ALERT!) I knew the required average was 6.6 pieces per play ((3*99)/45), but I underestimated the effect of "underperforming" plays on that average. I had to make much bigger plays count. My playing pattern results made it clear. So, for all you players out there, wrapped and striped was the ticket. They're difficult to create, but they take out three full rows and columns at a time. My first attempt with that strategy won, even with the investment in moves to create the required adjacent pieces. Sorry if you don't play and I lost you. But my point is, even though it is a very random game, observation yields insight. I never use power boosters at the start. I always play each game numerous times to try to uncover the developer's intent.

Here's another example. There's a story whose origin is lost to me, but it is a perfect example to show the value of listening to your inner voice, tapping into your intuition early on. Come with me to Russia and board a train in Moscow bound for Vladivostock. It's a six day journey across Siberia, nearly 6,000 miles. Listen carefully as the railway workers make their final preparations. Do you hear that? BANG-PING! BANG-PING! BANG-PING! That's a railway worker checking each wheel of another train to be sure none are cracked before heading into this wilderness. He swings a long hammer, striking each one, listening for a crisp ring in return to tell him that the wheel is intact.

While he is at this, another worker approaches our train with his hammer. He swings it back and strikes our first wheel. BANG-THUD! He checks again. BANG-THUD! The result is the same. So he calls out to the repair crew to bring the jacks, lifts and tools to replace the cracked wheel. It is no easy task. An hour later, new wheel in place, he returns to resume his tests on the rest of the wheels. He steps up to the second wheel. BANG-THUD! Another cracked wheel! Again he calls to the crew, and another grueling hour later, this second cracked wheel is replaced. Returning to the train a third time, our fellow whacks the third wheel. BANG-THUD! At this point he is dumbfounded. He has found his share of cracked wheels over the thirty years he's been doing this, but rarely two, never three, and never on consecutive wheels. He heads back to the station to consider his options without bringing the maintenance crew back out.

Sitting at an old wood table, smelling of grease and rust, he wonders if something unusual happened on the previous trip. Looking around, they only have six more replacement wheels. He decides to find out how many more are cracked before taking action. Stepping up to the fourth wheel he lays into it. BANG-THUD! The fifth. BANG-THUD! The sixth, seventh, eighth. BANG-THUD! BANG-THUD! BANG-THUD! Now he's stumped. Nothing in his experience explains this. And then... the aha moment. The one thing all of these cracked wheels have in common is... his hammer. Picking it up, he studies the head closely. Very closely. Something he's never done before. And there it is. A hairline crack running through the head. He grabs another hammer and confirms his suspicion. BANG-PING!

And so it is in all aspects of life. We remain stuck so much longer than need be. We beat our hammer against our problem far too long before we seriously consider that we may need another hammer. Jobs, relationships, locations. Different issues, same means to a solution. If you've been at it long enough, the patterns are there. Stop. Breathe. Take a step back and observe. Don't just see the situation, see YOU in the situation. Observe the observer. Give voice to what you uncover. And then, trust yourself. The pattern exposed, holds the solution. You will know what must be done. Plan, muster your courage, and act. It beats changing wheel after wheel because you've neglected to check your hammer. It's time to get underway.