The principles of game mechanics are powerful and can drive productivity gains in businesses and behavior change in individuals. Earning points and system feedback are two of five key elements that make game mechanics work and they also help to explain why we love streaks so much.
Joe DiMaggio’s 56-baseball game hitting streak has been called “unbreakable.” Bill Miller’s Legg Mason Value Trust mutual fund beat the S&P 500 for 15 straight years. Teacher Dale Irby wore the same outfit in his annual school picture for 40 years.
To paraphase Newton’s first law of motion, a body at rest stays at rest while a body in motion stays in motion. If you’re on a streak that relates to something positive and productive, stick with it. I often think about Seinfeld’s Secret when it comes to writing and getting going: don’t break the chain. If you find yourself or see someone in a negative place, it’s important to help stop the streak and get a new series going in a positive direction.