insurance design

Smoking Charges Ignite

Last night, Amy took Anna, our seven-year-old, to the dress rehearsal for her 2015 dance recital. I was left in charge of Will, our nine-year-old, and Ella, our three-year-old. What follows is a litany of the kids showing me that I exist in their world as a piece of tightly-spun twine, permanently...

[ Swap Article ]

Sad Child

Mimicry

Our actions become our kids' reactions. Not exactly new. Not exactly Newtonian (pause while joke sinks in). But it's a truism all the same. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Car radio

Piece of Sh*t Car Reprise

When I was in high-school, a popular song named "Ode to My Car," by Adam Sandler, spun regularly on the radio. No, it didn't. All foul-mouthed teenage boys wished such happy, unfiltered radio days would appear, but that didn't stop the explicit lyrics from making an impact, even if the song's plot...

[ Swap Article ]

ad-sample

Advertise Here

I feel like the brain-training app Peak is a walking, talking (or, more accurately, a clicking, screen-time bloating) irony. The stated goal of this app is to improve your lifelong mental processing potential in several categories, like problem-solving and memory. …...

[ Swap Article ]

Re-gifting

Certain messes in life are unavoidable. If you get a DUI and your hair is sufficiently mussed or you manage to jam your finger into the nearest outlet just prior to the mug-shot, chances are you'll be a big-time celebrity some day. ...

[ Swap Article ]

A Reasonable Explanation

Therapist: Take me back to the beginning. Tell me how it all got started, how you eventually wound up holding the bloody knife in the aftermath of your killing spree. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation....

[ Swap Article ]

That's a Mouthful

Waking up to the sounds of birds and (outside) insects is alluring, and when you have your second 10th cup of coffee and realize you are on vacation, and this auditory lovemaking is real, not the result of an ambitious-carpet-cleaning hallucination, you can finally relax, letting your bulk stress...

[ Swap Article ]

Stupid Piece of ... Oh, That's Right

I'm a realist. I call things like they are, and if I look stupid in the process, well, so be it. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Deadly Donuts

The morning started off good. Four eggs fluffed with a splash of milk, mixed with Parmesan and salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes and slathered with Cholula hot sauce; four ounces of Bob Evan's spicy Italian sausage (sorry for the smell, honey, luv ya) fried into the wonderful concoction;...

[ Swap Article ]

When Did I Become a Pushover?

I've never thought of myself as the Ultimate Fighter type. As a kid, whenever the possibility of bodily harm came up, I tried to avoid confrontation. But if the issue was pressed, I could stand up and issue fake threats along with the best of them and hope that my manufactured bravado was enough to...

[ Swap Article ]

As I Approach 30

I live in a small town. Colona, IL has a population of just over 5,000. As a jogger, this means I am usually only assaulted with exhaust fumes a few times whenever I decide to go outside to burn some calories. But as far as the type of people passing me on the roadside? Over this, I have no control....

[ Swap Article ]

0
Customer icon emotions satisfaction meter with different symbol on background

Filed Under , on April 20th, 2019

Peaked Performance

By Seth Kabala

I feel like the brain-training app Peak is a walking, talking (or, more accurately, a clicking, screen-time bloating) irony. The stated goal of this app is to improve your lifelong mental processing potential in several categories, like problem-solving and memory. The irony is that you Peak quickly. It’s not so much about attaining your Peak performance as it is realizing that the ceiling of your potential is a lot lower than you thought. Whoops. You just bumped your head on the dumb ceiling. It’s okay, you’re in good company.

I started using this app a few years ago, because I wanted to be more present during work presentations, running meetings, and to have fewer moments of waking up in a conference room, looking around at the random participants, and wondering if I’d been kidnapped.

Aha! Trying to ply me with your bagels and cream cheese and fruit and meats and cheeses. I’m not a simpleton. I know ransom-seekers when I see them. The only way you might get me is if you had single-ori– Oh, you’ve got the coffee, too. Hmm. Tell you what, why don’t I sample what you’ve got here on the table, and then we’ll talk about how much I’m worth. Let me clue you in, I just started braces payments for my daughter, so you may have grabbed the wrong guy. 

Who says kidnappers can’t wear business casual? They say they’re there to discuss funding strategies for capital infrastructure improvement, but that’s what all the kidnappers say. Can’t trust ‘em.

I wanted to be my best at work. In addition to getting good sleep and eating well, training my brain to function at a higher level seemed like the right way to go.

At the start, I’d go through my daily Just for You workout, supposedly hand-tailored to my developmental needs, though the algorithm gets shifty eyes whenever I ask it to remember my name. I was advancing in some categories, but I couldn’t muster the Peak performance necessary to be above-average in every category. The categories are language, problem-solving, memory, focus, mental agility, emotion, and coordination.

When you finish a workout (a series of brain-training games, such as recognizing smiles in a collage of facial expressions, tapping on certain colors and shapes of cards as a collection of them fly by on the screen, or looking at an aerial map and remembering how to navigate to your destination once the point of view switches to on-the-ground), Peak gives you the option to view Your Brain in a Nutshell, which will show your scores across all categories relative to others in your age range.

Most of my scores were fine, but my problem-solving sucked. Here’s an example. There’s this game called Meteor Defense, where the goal is to place defensive bombs just outside the Earth’s atmosphere to defend against incoming meteors. Fair warning: if the government puts me in charge of meteor defense, go ahead and find yourself a new planet now, because we are all doomed. I couldn’t get my score to greater than the average for my age range. So I did what I do when I want to improve: became obsessed and did problem-solving night and day until my score finally exceeded the average. Yes!

And then I Peaked.

Looking at my stats, I went from the 300s to the 600s and low 700s (1,000 is the top score) for overall game-play after about a year. Since that time, I’ve inched up to 726, where I am today, but I’m steadily losing ground. Once again, problem-solving is the culprit. I don’t think it’s going to make a huge difference in my career if I can reduce the moves it takes to position the tiles on a board, where only one or two spaces are empty, so that the tiles with lines on them line up to form a solid line. Maybe. Process improvement strategies often must find a way around the intractable object, or person.

I don’t think my opportunities for promotion will narrow if I can’t remember every shape the game showed me three shapes back. In fact, this might be a hindrance to top work performance. Imagine if you were always focused on the person you saw three people back. In my case, living in Portland, I would greet a whole heck of a lot of people by the name of the last Starbucks barista I encountered. They are everywhere!

But I keep trying to raise my Peak score, hoping that it’s going to serve as a bridge to future success, and I think that’s unrealistic. Giving Peak the credit for any success I have with family relations, at work, or in life in general risks introducing the fallacy of primacy and recency. (Note: this is not the primacy and recency effect related to learning and retention. If you want to learn about that, pay tuition and go back to school. Or do a Google search. It’s really the same thing.)

The Seth take on primacy and recency is this: we tend to attribute success to whatever we’ve set up as an intentional activity to improve performance (primacy) and with which we’ve engaged in close to real-time to realize the intention of said activity (recency). We like to feel like our actions are controlling on our future, like what we intended to create success was actually causal in our success and not subject to a random dice-roll of the universe.

Even if I could draw a statistical correlation between my Peak performance and some life KPI, is that worth a damn? Am I giving myself a false reason to feel good about all the fine-tuning I’m doing on my noggin to justify the money I’m spending for the privilege of getting frustrated with this app?

Those who study game design theory know that you must give gamers rewards to convince them to keep playing. They need to win, because with each win, however small, comes a release of dopamine, a high, which translates into a need to return to the source of the high.

Career success, healthy family, calm mind–if the price of attaining these is yelling at Peak and obsessing until I earn a marginal five-point improvement, even if that comes on the heels of a 50-point loss on stupid problem solving (stupid Castle Block. Stupid, stupid, stupid), I’ll pay the price for that win.

Robert Louis Stevenson said, “You cannot run away from weakness. You must some time fight it out, or perish. And if that be so, why not now? And where you stand?”

I intend to continue fighting it out with Peak, even if my gaming buddy is named irony.

FacebookGoogle+PinterestRedditTwittertumblrEmail



Leave a Reply





Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments Load Comments


Old Camper or Crystal Meth Lab

Little Meth Lab on the Back 40

I told a colleague that you could buy 12 acres in rural Iowa, plus a private lake, forest, and a decent house for $325K. He mentioned something about using all the extra savings to catch the backwoods economic wave in Iowa and start up a meth lab operation. This colleague has lived his whole life in...

[ Swap Article ]

Children, not, allowed, sign

Barn Kids

Amy and I have been looking at properties with land, something on the order of 1-5 acres. One of these properties had several out-buildings (or outhouses, as Amy continues to misidentify them. Never at a loss for where to drop your drawers on our property!). These out-buildings weren't run-down,...

[ Swap Article ]

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Accidental Smellfungus

Toki has been our cat since 2012. He's a ragdoll breed, which means he's docile to the extreme. You know when cowboys ride bulls in the rodeo? Our kids used to treat Toki as their bull, and he dutifully complied, although in recent years, I've spotted him crawling toward the edge of the ring, if we...

[ Swap Article ]

Open and closed recycle brown carton delivery packaging box.

The Unboxing

Shortly after moving to Portland, I asked our office administrative specialist to order me a footrest. I asked for the footrest for a practical reason: lower back pressure relief. I have a stand-up desk. This works well to get my stand hours in during the day--Apple faithful, you know what I'm...

[ Swap Article ]

God character working on telemarketing vector illustration. Telemarketing, sales, business, marketing design concept

Let there Be Devices

We have over a dozen devices now, and the number is only going to grow from here. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Money eye bottle soda water isolated on mascot

Hydrating Water

Phil wasn't sure what caused his muscles to dehydrate and shrivel up into jerky encased in skin, but he understood the aftermath. His career was over. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Einstein - Think

You're Smart

We were talking around the dinner table about what it means to get a college degree. I said you pass a bunch of tests, and then they give you a piece of paper that says you're smart. I finished my explanation saying employers can rely on that piece of paper as evidence that you're smart. Anna, 11,...

[ Swap Article ]

Madre Greater than Padre

Madre > Padre

A couple weeks ago, Amy diagnosed and changed out all three fuses that controlled electrical flow to the outlets in our car. Super sexy. Super cool. When I say that Amy did it, I don't mean that I was standing on the sidelines, guiding hands and helping words coaching her to a successful solution. I...

[ Swap Article ]

Ben Comedy Main Headshot 2019 Lego Tshirt Hi Res_May 2019 Profile Piece

An Interview with Ben Rosenfeld (feature)

Acceptance and Current Events ...

[ Swap Article ]

Cartoon stick figure drawing conceptual illustration of angry man or businessman targeting with antique cannon ready to fire.

Bolt-Action Cannonball Sack

"Can you do the bolt-action cannonball sack?" Ella asked me today during bedtime. She was trying to remember the name of the move I do when I toss her over my shoulder and then flip her onto the bed. (I call it the fireman’s carry/toss.) Earlier, she was playing Fortnite with Will and must have...

[ Swap Article ]

?????????????????????????????????????????????????

Time Traveling Titan

At Toastmasters last week, the theme was National Velociraptor Awareness Day (a real thing). During Table Topics, one of the questions was this: describe your experience finding the first velociraptor claw. Tonight, the whole family is going to watch Avengers: Endgame. In the spirit of honoring the...

[ Swap Article ]

Retro seventies colorful pattern with geometric shapes. 1970s vintage decorative poster design.

Dr. Dove Bee Gee Cage

My house may be haunted. ...

[ Swap Article ]