Lisa shares how "losing" a game of WORDLE" reminded her that there are an infinite amount of new beginnings and an endless array of possibilities that lie just beyond having the right answer.
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Yesterday morning, for the very first time, I used up all my attempts to figure out the right 5 letter word in “Wordle”. I play it every morning and, until yesterday, have always been able to guess the correct word before I ran out of tries.(If you aren’t familiar with the game - no worries, I’m “guessing” the Wordle Wisdom will resonate just the same.
I usually complete the game pretty quickly, share my result with my mother-in-law, and go on with my day. But yesterday was different. Not only did I not guess the right word quickly, I quickly used up all my chances and still didn’t get the right word.
I didn’t labor over it as I was doing it, I always find the answer and take pride in the fact that I place little value on whether I complete it in the least amount of turns. But I hadn’t ever considered what it would feel like if I couldn’t complete it at all.
The rules of the game are simple: You get six attempts to guess a five-letter word.
A green tile means you have the right letter in the right place, a yellow tile means the letter is in the word but in the wrong place, and the dreaded gray tile means you guessed a letter that’s not in the word at all.
The game begins when you choose your first word.
According to the Free Dictionary, there are 158,390 words with five letters. Volume 6 of the Scrabble Dictionary claims there are 8,996; either way, the sky is pretty much the limit when you begin; as long as it is a verifiable 5 letter word.
You can learn a lot about yourself in that first moment of choice. When faced with endless possibilities of how to begin/play the game, what criteria do you use to choose?
Does the fear of 5 grays in your opening move factor into how you choose your first move? And if you do happen to get 5 grays (as I have many times) will that trigger you into a scarcity mindset or self-loathing “What a bad guess. I’m so unlucky - Oh no, I only have 5 turns to get it right, concentrate harder - do better!”. Or do you tend to not take things personally and embrace a growth mindset knowing that what’s not in the right answer is just as valuable information as knowing what is….
Endless possibilities, …Blank slate - take a chance and choose a word that means something to you…
Yesterday, I chose HEART and was off to a great start guessing two letters that were in the word but in the wrong position (two yellows, 3 gray).
Next, I used my logical brain and positioned the e & r at the end with the word POWER. That gave me three out of 5 letters all in the correct position and only my second guess!
What happened next was interesting.
With my confidence bias in full gear, for the next 4 turns I easily chose words that fit the criteria but none of them were the “right answer”, I still only had 3 out of the 5 solved.
LONER, JOKER, CODER … (man there are a lot of words that fit this profile!) one more try ….Final word BOXER it’s gotta be the one! Then I stopped.
Before I pushed enter on my last guess I slowed down for a moment to consider the fact that although it was likely the correct answer (yup still living into my confidence bias) that I actually had more energy around feeling curious about what happens when you “fail” to solve the puzzle since I never had.
So without trepidation and unattached to the outcome I pushed enter and lo and behold I was wrong again. The correct answer popped up on the screen it was FOYER.
I am more than familiar with the word and have had the great privilege of standing in some of the finest foyers in theaters around the world. In that moment when I “lost” the game for the first time, something inside of me opened up. I stared at the word and felt inspired. A FOYER is an entrance, an opening, something to pass through, a portal. It is a place to gather before we pass through to the otherside. It is not an end but an entry point to new possibilities and it inspired me to write this today.
So thank you WORDLE for reminding me that there are an infinite amount of new beginnings and an endless array of possibilities that lie beyond having the right answer.
There will be another game tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. How we play it is entirely up to us.