The Rules We Make For Ourselves: How Taskmaster Parallels Life

Hi lovely friends! It’s Kuro-Kuro time!

Just like everyone else, I’ve been watching everyone’s favorite British panel game show TASKMASTER!

Get this tote bag and more Taskmaster inspired items from Kbel’s shop.

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Grab a tea for a deep dive into Taskmaster The Series

Taskmaster is a game show with a simple premise. There are 5 contestants who each individually complete a task. At a later date, they all come together, and the Taskmaster watches how they did. He then ranks them according to what he believes constitutes completing the task “best.”

The task is a wax-sealed piece of paper with the task printed on it. There is often a set up of certain items along with the task. The person administering the task is Alex Horne. He sometimes aids the contestants a bit if they ask, and he clarifies some things, but for the most part, he is there to set up and keep time. As he often says, “All the information is on the task.”

Watermelon Task

As an example, the very first main task was this:

“In the lab there is a watermelon. Eat as much watermelon as possible. You have one minute. Your time starts when you open the door to the lab.”

This is a good task to break down. This task was given in a room other than where the task was being held. The timer didn’t start until you entered the room, so you could ostensibly take your time preparing before you opened the door to the lab. It wasn’t explicitly on the task, but it was implied.

Three of the contestants went right in and did not use any objects from around the house, one got a knife during the timed part of the task, and only one got a knife and spoon prior to walking into the task room. They all made their own rules.

Every Other Task

As the series goes on, you witness the phenomenon of people making their own rules and restrictions when it comes to completing the task. This is impossible to avoid, given the set up of the show. The interpretation is key. This, of course is the beauty of the series. Let me break this down more.

Imagine you are completing a task for Taskmaster. Let’s say the task is

“Be Awesome. You have one hour. Your time starts now.”

In this type of task, you don’t have to be awesome for the entire hour, but rather you have a whole hour to prepare a short segment for the show. There is little measurable about this task, so it all comes down to interpretation.

Alex Horne – Production

It starts with production, as many reality television and game shows do. The task is written with something in mind – it would be impossible not to be. Production needs to make sure there is appropriate camera angles, type of cameras, lighting, microphones, and all the equipment you might need to complete your task of being awesome. They need to be somewhat prepared for what they think will make a good segment of the show, or else it will potentially be a waste of time and labor. The tasks are written and presented in a particular way to control the interpretation as much as possible.

BUT production tries to limit the “rules” as much as possible by leaving things brief with few details. This adds an element of randomness that makes for a very entertaining show.

The Contestant – You

Then you come in. You sense what is around you. You read the task, and you have to interpret how the task can best be completed, but more importantly how you can best complete the task. In making these judgments, you are making your “rules.” You think about what you need, and you do your best. You also want to have your version of fun, I imagine.

The Other Contestants – Your Competitors

During the course of the hour, you think about how to perform your awesomeness, you prepare your ingredients, and you complete your segment. All this time, you consider your competitors and how they will interpret the task, and what will make them look best, and you try to do better than they do, or in some cases, you decide you can’t do better than your competitors so you try to approach it another way.

The Audience – Your Image

This is a television show, so you know there will be an audience. You want to look good and prove you can be awesome, or at least funny. You want to have a good impression so you can continue to get work.

Furthermore, the audience sees it well after you have completed the task – there’s no going back and making adjustments, but they see it and can react to it before the Taskmaster gives the scores. The audience’s interpretation of the task and how the contestants completed it pays a role in what the “rules” for scoring are.

Greg Davies – The Final Word

Finally, Greg watches all the segments, hears what Alex and the producers have said about them, heeds how the audience reacts, and bases the scores on his own interpretation of the task, and also how the audience, the contestants, the producers, and the network will judge him. This is his job, and he wants to keep it, after all.

He has to interpret if each contestant followed the rules of the task, because there are some disqualifications. Perhaps the task was

“Be Awesome. You may not speak. You have one hour. Your time starts now.”

And while you were being awesome you sing. Greg has to determine if that breaks the rules or not. All of this happens well after you have completed your task. Because of the unique timing of all of these steps, you won’t always know all the “rules” the Taskmaster decides to enforce.

Because there is so much interpretation going on, and perceived interpretation, and unknown interpretation, you have to make your own rules. You determine what guidelines are going to work for you, and you follow those rules.

So in a largely rule-fluid, or even rule-free game, you have to make your own rules. Such is Taskmaster, and such is life.

Who is Your Taskmaster?

You can break your life down into a series of tasks. Unfortunately, we don’t get our tasks in a nice wax-sealed letter from Alex. Tasks can come from all over the place – our families, our teachers, our bosses, our peers. Hopefully, a huge majority of your tasks will come from yourself.

A lot of tasks are done by many people – waking up, brushing your teeth, getting exercise. Some tasks will be done by just some people – going to college, having kids, getting married. Some tasks will be done by very few – publishing a book, hiking the Appalachian Trail, being a plumber. You will get to do tasks from all these different categories, with variable number of “competitors” and people doing the same tasks as you. There won’t always be a right way and a wrong way, or a best way and a worst way.

So who is the Taskmaster in your life? Your Family? Society? Your Peers? God? Or are you your own Taskmaster? The tasks of life are up to interpretation. The rules of life are fluid. We don’t always know how our actions will be judged, or even who will be judging them.

The tasks of life are up to interpretation. The rules of life are fluid.

So many different kinds of tasks coming from so many different sources can be difficult to keep track of. So in order to navigate everything, we end up making our own rules.

What are Self Imposed Rules?

A self imposed rule can be one that you have made for yourself, and which no one has asked you to accept. It can also be defined as a rule that is set by the people who must obey, but nobody else has to obey it. For example, you may set a rule that you don’t eat popcorn during movies, but you wouldn’t expect anyone else to follow that rule.

Setting your own rules can be essential to a happy life, especially in a time when many old fashioned ideals are sticking around even though many different opinions and lifestyles are being accepted.

But they can also be a bit limiting

When they are stupid – false self-imposed rules

Here are some rules that people think are self imposed, but might not be:

  • You need to get married in your twenties so you have time to have kids.
  • You need to buy a house by the time you are 30.
  • You shouldn’t eat in a restaurant until you pay off your student loans.
  • If you are going to start a business, you better have a business degree and a lot of money.
  • You should be able to survive without a data plan.
  • You won’t be happy unless you live in the city.

Are you really making these rules for yourself, or are you just listening to society, an article you once read, or *gasp* a headline you saw on facebook? To me, this sounds like a whole lot of “shoulds” that don’t apply to everyone. They are archaic rules based on old data that was probably incorrectly gathered, and then manipulated to send a particular message. Sometimes they are not based on data at all. Sometimes they are based on an experience that nobody ever had. There are some shoulds that have value, and even some of these shoulds are incredibly valuable for some people. But maybe not you, and that’s okay!

Stop Shoulding Yourself

Who made these rules?

Taskmaster is one of my favorite shows, and I love Greg Davies as a host. But I can’t help but bring to attention that Greg Davies is a 6’8″ white man with blue eyes and a charming accent. Are you a 6’8″ white man with blue eyes and a charming accent? Probably not. Are any of the rules you live by dictated or created by tall white men from Europe or the United States? There’s a decent chance. There’s also a decent chance the people who made these rules make more money than you, but more importantly, they will make more money by you following these rules.

What About Your Parents? Or Your Spouse?

Yes, family member’s rules can be very difficult to ignore. Ideally, the rules in a family are discussed and decided on as a unit. You deserve to understand why you are following specific rules, and the people who made the rules deserve to hear if there is a problem.

If you made the rules, how much younger were you?

Maybe when you were a little kid, you dreamed of having a princess wedding gown and a husband with a steady well-paying job and a job yourself, and a big house and 5 kids and a dog. And when you were a little older, you started to actually make plans (and “rules”) to make that happen. But along the way, you didn’t follow the rules, and you didn’t complete that task.

The reason why you didn’t complete that task is because you didn’t want to complete it anymore, because you have more valuable information to be able to pick the tasks that you want.

If you are following rules you made for yourself even a year ago, you are following someone else’s rules. You are a different person now. You have much more knowledge and information and a much better ability to make your own rules. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate often. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “why do I even want this?” You deserve to know that answer.

One more note

If you are making rules for yourself that are along the lines of “I am still able to drive after I had 2 beers/even though I am very tired/without my seat belt, etc.” or “I don’t have to evacuate my house when the fire department told me to” or “I don’t have to tip the waitress because the restaurant was busy,” then you are not you making your own rules. This is just you breaking the rules and being indecent.

When they are smart – true self-imposed rules

There are many true self-imposed rules that are incredibly helpful in achieving the tasks that you want to achieve, whatever they may be. Things like –

  • Doing things that align with your core values
  • Not doing things that make it hard to live with yourself
  • Having routines that you tailor design for your personality
  • Finding joy or learning in everything you do
  • And any rules that lead you to a life of self love

How they will change your life

You can let self-imposed rules pave the path to enlightenment, or you can let them lead you to a life of regret. Rules like “I won’t be good enough until…” or “I am not qualified to do…” or “I don’t know how to…” are rules that stop you from experiencing things and taking risks.

It is very important to drop rules altogether if you feel like they cause a lot of anxiety and sadness, or cause you harm in any way. It’s just as important to follow rules that truly help you feel more at peace (raise your vibrations, if you’re about that life). Feel free to change your mind and let your rules grow with you.

You are the Taskmaster of your own life, and you have all the power to set the rules for scoring your tasks.

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Kuro Kuro

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