Letter Zero.56
Dear <<First Name>>, 

Have you ever thought of Mexican food as a game? Here’s a walk-through where tacos reveal the cheat codes for creative breakthrough…

Level 0
You step out of your burgers or pizza comfort zone and try Mexican food for the first time. It’s good. Game on.

Level 1
Your pleasant experience at Taco Bell gives you the confidence to say “I think I like Mexican food” and soon you are voluntarily visiting more “authentic” Mexican restaurants. You sample all the dishes until you can navigate the menu at any Mexican restaurant without embarrassment.

Level 2
You decide you like Mexican enough that you try making tacos at home. Taco Tuesday becomes a regular meal in your weekly rotation. 

Level 3
You experiment with your tacos, adjusting the ingredients until you can make the perfect taco without a recipe.

Level 4
You recognize the patterns of the ingredients and begin experimenting with parodies of your favorite dishes. You expand your menu, learning how to re-combine tortillas, cheese, meat and vegetables as well as Jim Gaffigan. You have become a remix artist, playing with things like taco salad, taco soup, and Mexican lasagna. 

Level 5
Somewhere along your journey to master the Mexican menu, you realize how artificial the category of Mexican food is. You wonder why you never saw it before. You used to think food categories were real but now you understand that there is infinite nuance, there’s no limit to what you can create if you abandon the popular mental model known as “Mexican food.” You’ve found the game within the game because you’ve found yourself back at Level 0, wondering if leveling up is worth the risk.

The game never ends, but to continue leveling up your only option is to choose your own adventure. Maybe you invent your own dish. Maybe you invent an entirely new category of food. Perhaps you will open your own restaurant and people will go out of their way to experience your uncopyable art. You spend the rest of your life realizing one simple truth: the more you look, the more you see…

If you watch for this “leveling up” pattern and you will see it everywhere. Whether it’s burritos or learning to play an instrument you will level through three important phases:

Risk. Try something that you might not like.
Curiosity. Stick with it until you acquire a new vocabulary and basic skills.
Breakthrough. It’s inevitable, and when it happens your old mental models will shatter and you will step into a new reality where anything is possible.

I’ll write again soon. Stay creative.

Your friend,
Copyright © 2021 Adrian Hanft, All rights reserved.

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