Lessons Learned From Mario Kart

My husband, Brady, is going to die over this post.  He is very much a “what you see is what you get” kind of man, which I love about him.  I, on the other hand, am much more analytical and I love that about me too.  I love to think!  I realize there is a fine line between being analytical and over-analyzing, which I do try to avoid.  But hang in there with me on this subject of Mario Kart because I definitely have a point that even Brady might love.  

As often as possible, we love to play Mario Kart as a family.  My 9-year-old, JC, is impossible to beat.  He’s freakishly good at everything he does…if he wants it and believes in himself, but that’s a topic for another day.  Brady is super competitive and just wants to win and it kills him to get beat by a 9-year-old, which just fuels JC’s fire.  Ben, my 5-year-old, just likes to have a good time.  He often comes in last but has been heard to say, “well, I won again!”  Playing and having fun is winning to him, a quality I would love to share.  Then there’s me and these are the lessons I have learned from Mario Kart.

I choose to race as my Mii, meaning my digital avatar from the Nintendo.  So there I am with dark brown hair, bright red lips, big brown eyes and dressed in a red helmet with a red racing suit.  I choose the sport bike with the crimson slim tires and the parachute glider (we just got the newest version with gliders).  I choose those because they handle well, because I’m not great on sharp turns without some extra help.  They are also fast because I want to beat everyone…yup, I’m fairly competitive as well.  I’ve noticed as we race that there are certain things that help me do well on the course. 

1.  Keep my eyes on the road.  I don’t look around to see who’s in front of me or in back of me.  I find that if I start looking around, it’s easy for me to slip on a banana peel or run into someone with rotating green shells and then spin out of control.  I also tend to miss sharp turns and head off cliffs or fall into water or lava, depending on the course.  

2.  Always keep a banana peel, green shell or red shell in my back pocket.  Being prepared to defend myself is key.  If I have something in my possession, I can tack it on the back of my bike when someone is trying to throw something at me; I can block their attempt!  If I am unprepared, I always fail.

3.  Focus on what’s just ahead.  If I am beating myself up over something that went wrong on the previous lap or I am anticipating something ahead, I lose concentration.  But when I stay right where I am and focus on what’s right in front of me, I can navigate the course with surprisingly great ease. If I start to think about winning, something farther ahead, I immediately feel myself lose focus.  All I can control is how I handle what's right in front of me, I can't control an outcome.  

4.  I choose the gear that will help me do my best.  As I said before, I choose my bike and tires based on what I know my weaknesses are.  I call in extra help to make up for what I lack.  Being honest with myself about my limitations and weaknesses and asking for help has allowed me to be a whole lot more successful than trying to do it alone.

5.  Practice and experience.  When I first started racing, I was running into walls constantly.  But choosing to approach the game as an opportunity to get better has helped me improve.  Trial and error have allowed me to fine-tune my game.  When we unlock new cars or wheels, it’s good for me to get outside of my comfort zone and give them a try.  Sometimes I find that they add speed or handling and sometimes I find that I fall flat on my face.  But at least I try and I learn a lot from the experience.  

When I do these things, I can finish the race with confidence that I did my best.  I win a whole lot more often when these 5 things are in my favor.  However, winning isn’t what I have appreciated most from these lessons.  When I do my best, I can look around the room at the other 3 players and hope they did THEIR best.  I can congratulate them on their accomplishments, knowing that their best doesn’t take anything away from mine.  We all win.  And that makes me FEEL my best.

I tell my kids this all the time: Just water your own grass.  That means, don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, just focus on YOU.  Don’t look around too much in comparison and judgment.  Keep your eye on the goal and take it a turn at a time, focusing on the course that’s right in front of you.  Do your best and congratulate others on their best.  We all win when we stay true to ourselves.  

Those are the lessons I have learned from Mario Kart.  In sharing, I hope they ring true to you.  If not, at least I have creatively avoided a much larger and more important writing project for which I am currently experiencing ginormous brain cramps, probably because of the fear that someone won’t like what I have to say.  But if I’ve learned anything from Mario Kart it’s that I need to focus on what’s in front of me and be true to myself.  

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD