Understand Your Path by Treating Life Like Mario Kart

Life is like Mario Kart...wait, what?!

Remember Mario Kart on Nintendo 64? Arguably the greatest video game of all time?

  It's'a'me!  by: Martin McGovern

It's'a'me! by: Martin McGovern

It hit me recently that circling those tracks parallels real life in some eye-popping three-dimensional ways. Think back to when you were on your kart, you likely encountered the following...

  1. Someone who is clearly the best, owning the field, laps ahead of everyone.

  2. Someone who is a place or two ahead of us, but who we are convinced is just lucky.

  3. And others lagging in the field, slipping endlessly on banana peels.

In real life, your race could be a number of things. Maybe you feel stuck at your job. Maybe you enjoy your work, but want to grow and amplify your career. Maybe you want to be seen as an expert in your field. Or, want to make new friends. Or, have a passion project and don’t know how to get started. Or, hundreds of other scenarios.

You find yourself in a race with people who are ahead of you, going faster, and with better direction. You feel like you’re falling behind, scared of dropping into last place, and it’s god damn frustrating. You’re only hope is to swing around the turn and snag a mystery question box: a pray for a lifeline that will accelerate your position.

When you hit that box, a spinning dashboard shows up and you try to land on the item that will help you in this moment. But, with all that mystery inside, you never know if you’ll get the perfect item that wins you the race, or if you’ll get hit with an unlucky surprise.

The same goes for life. We are out there trying all sorts of new things, but never know what the outcomes will be. Will this help us, or hurt us? Will we achieve our goals? Will we end up in in first place, or last?

The key is to know what items are available to us, understand their importance, and figure out how to utilize or avoid them all together. Let’s break it down by item to see which one we should really shoot for to put ourselves in poll position.



Frustrating to have, and holds you back

   The Upside Down Question Mark Box

The Upside Down Question Mark Box

  • In The Game: You spin out hard and fall out of the race, possibly off the mountain, off the highway, or into the water.

  • In Real Life: You talk yourself out of even trying. Filling your head with more and more questions about how the world is against you, that you can’t do anything about it, and everyone else is ahead of you. “Why don’t I have more time?”, “How do I figure it out?”, “When do I catch a break?” You sit on the "what ifs". You know you're stuck and can't find the motivation to get out, or you're too scared to try. It harms you and those closest to you, bringing everyone down and continuing the cycle.



Items that look attractive but that you don’t really want

  The Green Shell

The Green Shell

  • In the Game: A randomized attack aimed at anyone in the field that often backfires and blows up your kart and the karts of those around you.

  • In Real Life: Throwing a green shell in life is being a Level 1 Hater. You look at everyone ahead of and around you, and chuck negativity and hate at their work. “Oh, they have it easy”, “If only I had THEIR skills/resources/time”, “They just know how to smooth talk people”. It’s easy and feels good in the moment, but ultimately hurts everyone’s score and keeps you stuck in last place.

  The Red Shell

The Red Shell

  • In The Game: Guided attacks at the racers who got lucky and don’t deserve to be ahead of you.

  • In Real Life: Throwing red shells makes you a Level 2 Hater-- now you’re firing targeted hate. Picking out specific people and begrudging their success. “She only got that job because she knows so and so”, “He’s been handed everything, he’s never had to work for anything”, “If I were in her shoes, I’d have everything figured out”, "That should be ME getting married and having kids". Red Shells cause us to lose in the long run, because we don’t take responsibility for where we are and what we need to do to succeed. We blame others to make ourselves feel better, and ignore the real issue--our mindset--while we fall into last place.

  The Blue Spiked Shell

The Blue Spiked Shell

  • In The Game: Follow the leader. Destroy the leader!

  • In Real Life: Using the Blue Spiked Shell is Level 3 Hate, targeted at one specific person. Someone we view as competition because they are doing specifically the things we wish we could do. Rather than study them to understand what makes them successful, we envy or attack them for their success. “They think everything is perfect and everything will work out, but they don’t know what it’s really like to fucking struggle.” Notice how you never throw the Blue Spiked Shell at anyone behind you, only ahead of you.



Attractive items that don’t help as much as you think


  The Mushroom

The Mushroom

  • In The Game: A a brief moment of acceleration that puts you ahead for a moment, but can also lead you off a cliff.

  • In Real Life: These inspired moments are a step in the right direction, since they are focused on what you need to do to get ahead, but are gone in an instant. You watch a TED Talk, listen to a podcast, or read a book that blows your mind, and think, “That’s what I’ll do with my life!”. You feel REALLY FREAKING INSPIRED, but when the video ends you find yourself at a dead end, back to reality and business as usual.

  The Atomic Mushroom (aka the "Stud Muffin")

The Atomic Mushroom (aka the "Stud Muffin")

  • In the Game: Burst after burst after burst after burst!!!! ...now what?

  • In Real Life: Atomic Mushrooms are your Ted Talks on steroids. This is when you watch one video and the next one autoplays, you finish one podcast episode and the next one begins, or you complete one book on your Kindle and Amazon recommends the next one to read. Before you know it, several hours have gone by and you feel LIKE SUPER FREAKING INSPIRED! But, you’re still sitting on the couch staring at your iPad. You get the rush of taking action, but haven’t actually done anything...then the next video starts.



The best item out there

  The Power Star

The Power Star

  • In The Game: The ultimate cosmic power, launching you ahead!

  • In Real Life: The Power Star is when you are in the zone and you feel like nothing can stop you. You take action on your inspiration. You know your mission, and it literally drives you ahead in the game. If anyone is in front of you, you tell them, “either get on my level or get the fuck outta my way!” The Power Star puts you in first place.


So how do you get the Power Star?

The first step is to clear your head of the items to avoid at all cost and the ones that are shiny but deadly. Stop filling your thoughts with the questions that keep you in last place and bring down the level of those closest to you, and stop throwing hate on others to make yourself feel better.

Next, I’m not saying don’t watch TED Talks or listen to podcasts (hell, I gave a TED Talk and we have an Idea Lemon podcast), but consume them with intent to take action. If there’s a point that really motivates you, think about how it applies directly to your life. Do you agree or disagree with that point? How can you use that information to move yourself forward? Instead of bringing your inner circle down with Upside Down Question Marks, enhance the collective thought by bringing these positive thoughts to the table.

In our Discover Your Inner Awesome podcast, each episode we explore an important and pressing life question. We created the podcast to get these things out of our head and on record so that we can better use information to get ahead in our pursuits, and help you do the same.

Now that you are moving from inspiration to action, it’s time to understand and embrace your mission. Not a goal, not an objective, but a mission. Something that exists inside you independent of time, resources, or the actions of others. Something that lights a fire in your belly, elevates you through the good times, and keeps you going during the down times. Your mission is not bound by the confines of one single job, passion, or interest. It’s the driving force behind everything important to you. For reference, my personal mission is to always evolve my reality and challenge what I think I know about the world.

Find your mission and you change how you see the game.

THIS is how you get ahead in the race. THIS is how you start your pursuit.

THIS is how you get the Power Star.


START HERE - Go from inspiration to action today, by responding in the comments section:

WHAT Mario Kart mystery item do you find yourself using?

Be honest. Remember, the items are: an Upside Down Question Box, Green Shell, Red Shell, Blue Spiked Shell, Mushroom, Atomic Mushroom, or Power Star.

It took me awhile to get the Power Star (most recently putting my own music out publicly and performing shows). I’ve definitely thrown some Red Shells in my day ("Young Jeezy is a shitty rapper...If I had his promotion I could be a millionaire too!"), and relied on the high of Atomic Mushrooms for a long time ("Childish Gambino's album really inspires me, I'm gonna keep listening to it, and go to his concert, and listen to it again, and go to his concert again, and put off working on my own music...").

How about you?


Once you have the Star you can be on fire.

In my next post I’ll share how you get on fire...NBA Jam style!


Take care and be awesome.

What up! My name is Rajiv Nathan and I'm the Cofounder of Idea Lemon. That banana peel you slipped on to land here came from me. That's because I fancy myself a human Curious George, and the yellow hat I chase is life's authentic moments. I share my chase one story at a time through this blog, our email newsletter, and as a rapper.

Oh and I'm a WWE fan 4 lyf!