Pro Gaming, Motivation, Goals, & Work Ethic

This is something that's come up in the CS:GO scene a few times recently, and it had me in semi-deep thought the other night before bed, where I tweeted this stream of consciousness: https://twitter.com/SelflessRyu/status/742590689096159236

Goals

One of the most important traits for you to have in life is self-awareness. You should know your strengths, you should know your weaknesses, and you should use that knowledge to be honest with yourself. It seems all too often that players "set goals"-- but those goals are actually set via peer pressure, repeated mindlessly by the player, and aren't really what that player is setting out to accomplish for themselves. Don't fall into this trap. Be honest about your goals... to yourself, and to your team/teammates.

Something to note: Just because someone has different goals than you, doesn't mean they're an awful human being. It means they're doing whatever it is they do for a different reason than you. With respect to competitive gaming and esports, this might mean that some players have a goal of being able to compete full time so they can quit their "day job". Some players want to win a major championship. Some want to be the undisputed best player in the world. One isn't right, and one isn't wrong. They're just different.

You must also remember that most people will state a goal, but won't have the discipline, motivation, or work ethic to take the actions necessary to achieve it. A goal is like an idea-- they're both great to have, but in and of themselves they're nothing. Executing on the idea, or taking action to accomplish your goals-- that's where the magic is. 

With that said, whenever I get asked "Hey Ryu, I'm going to build a team in X game for next season. Any advice?", my go-to answer is "Make sure the players you pick up all honestly share the same goals and are willing to put in the work to achieve it". You don't want to field a team of 5 where 2 players are content getting a check that covers their bills, 2 are content they can brag to friends and family that they're "pro gamers", and 1 player is fully committed to winning a major. It won't work. The 1 player will feel like he's sacrificing more, working harder, and that'll start to build resentment in many cases. Not something you want within a growing, developing team, and certainly not conducive to long-term success. 

So, once you get a team together, everyone honestly shares the same goals, and, within the context of being self-aware and honest, know that the goal is achievable, you can get things moving. 

Motivation

You hear it often, and you can see it with some gamers who stream or tend to be more public facing-- their drive, their burning hunger, it fades away over time. They seem less interested in the game they're being paid to play, they start to play other games, spend less and less time grinding out the hours working on self-improvement within the context of "their" game, and so on. 

I get it. Trust me, I do. You used to love playing the game for fun in a more casual, relaxed setting. Now you have to get on your computer at a scheduled time, play intense, focused practice matches, and repeat that day in and day out. Maybe it's not as much fun as it used to be, maybe that kind of focused intensity isn't what you're used to, or maybe the travel isn't what you had expected, so you feel a bit deflated...you're definitely not maintaining the same burning hunger to win you had before. 

Well, that's bad news for you. Because guess what? That's what being a pro gamer is. This the point where you need to return the section above and figure out how bad you want it. How much you're willing to sacrifice and push yourself through to achieve the goal. And hell, maybe even a point to reconsider if your stated goal is actually your goal. 

If it IS your goal, and you're committed and willing to do what it takes to improve, take the next step, and get that much closer to achieving it, it's time to reignite that fire. Find something that'll motivate you. For me, I can listen to the Rocky IV soundtrack, watch an inspiring TED talk, or a motivational speech or video montage. Maybe for you it's a phone call to a friend or close family member. Maybe it's a talk with your teammates. Figure out what you need to do to get motivated, and do it.

Work Ethic

This is one that sometimes bothers me... and then I remember that a drop off in work ethic can sometimes come as a result of faltering levels of motivation. Keep in mind, hard work is required to achieve pretty much anything of value-- so don't expect that you'll be able to "coast" through your career or life for that matter. Not if you want to accomplish big things.

When your goal is set, you're committed to accomplishing it, you know what you're willing to sacrifice, and you're motivated, you need to GO WORK YOUR ASS OFF. HUSTLE. GRIND. You should make it a secondary goal to have none of your peers outwork you. Here's a quote I absolutely love, which I'll explain the relevance of within the world of esports. 

Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.
— Mark Cuban

So if you're a Pro player in our wonderful world of esports, know that there are non-pro players who want it more than you, they're playing 10-16 hours a day... and THEY'RE DOING IT FOR FREE. And if you don't think that's true, I could link you half a dozen accounts of North American players in CS:GO that I have on my scouting list as high potential players who I know as fact have CONSISTENTLY more hours every 2 weeks than most of the NA pro scene. 

And guess what? They're coming to replace you.

So don't let it happen. Hustle. Grind. Work. Get up every morning and ask yourself "What can I do today to help me achieve <goal>?". Go to bed every night and ask yourself "Did I do all that I could to help me achieve <goal> today, and if not, what do I need to do tomorrow to make up for it?".

Do you think you have what it takes? Are you that driven about anything, esports, gaming, or otherwise? Let me know! @SelflessRyu on Twitter.

-Ryu