Lessons from League of Legends Part 1: The Weakness of Strengths

I remember the first time I did terribly on a champion (player-controlled character) I was pretty good at. Granted, it was late at night and I had spent a few more hours than I should have grinding the game, but either way playing badly doesn't feel good.

This is especially true when you're working to reach a goal this is also true when you have a not-so-cooperative team, and you're playing a role that’s equivalent to doing all the work on a group assignment and everyone gets the same grade. Well...I wasn't doing all the work, but it felt that way.

Because League of Legends (LoL) had a reputation of having extremely toxic players, I stayed away from it for as long as possible, and I surprisingly managed to stay away for a few years but then I got bored of all the "competitive" games. I disliked the "let’s reward everyone the same so no one feels left out" mentality.

So, naturally LoL fell into my lap. When I downloaded it, I had fun for a minute, hated it, and then uninstalled it within a week. But a few weeks later it found its way back into my computer (apparently, I didn’t actually uninstall it). Even with all my time management skills, I still managed to slip in a few more hours than I should have.

After trying out roles, I decided to mainly play as a support champion. This began my journey in the under-appreciated role of silent carrying. For those unfamiliar with gaming, a silent carrier is crucial to the ultimate win, but no one sees the silent carrier because its role is in the background.

When it comes to anything I enjoy I always want to be better at it. So, I developed a habit of keeping track of all my major mistakes. I called this tracking effort the "Why I Died" sheet.

To keep it balanced, I made a list of what I thought were my biggest strengths as a player and I came up with a top three:

  • Rarely died 
  • Great wards (sight on the map) 
  • Kept adc/mid alive (kept other players alive) 

After a few weeks of playing, I decided to look at my "Why I Died" sheet and to my surprise my top three strengths were nested there.

So how do my biggest strengths and major mistakes collide? Because I was focusing all my energy on my growth areas, I unconsciously became lackadaisical when it came to my strengths. I am by no means saying you shouldn’t work on your growth areas.

My point here is that we can't afford to believe our strong areas don't need to be worked on. They need to grow too, or they will become another source of weakness.

When I first entered the cybersecurity world, I took the lessons I learned from LoL with me. I realized that there were more ways to implement that lesson than personal ones. I realized that some of our strongest security defenses can be our weakest if we don't work on them. 

For example, I was told that the end-user was our weakest link. But what if it's our strongest link? What if we placed the best forces behind other security defenses and left frustration and annoyance to the “weakest link.”  

I think the end-user is our ‘silent carrier’ and they are crucial to the ultimate win, but we often fail to see that the need to change our behavior towards their security training isn’t just being “positive.”  

It may help to put the same amount of talent and energy into security awareness trainings as we do for technical trainings.  

We all need the reminder that no matter where we are in our careers or personal life, we must step back and re-evaluate how we're strengthening ourselves and the environment around us.  

As I learned in LoL, we must remember that we’re all human and our strengths can be and will be a source of weakness. So let us continue to examine even the strongest of fortresses in cybersecurity, make a “Why I Died” list, strengthen the weaknesses of our strengths…and then, let's play on.

Fareedah Shaheed was born in Maryland but spent most of her childhood outside of the United States. She returned to the US in 2013 and attended the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC), where she majored in Cybersecurity. 

In her free time, Fareedah likes to play League of Legends, read psychology and self-help books, and learn more about the securing the human factor of Cybersecurity. 

She is a Year Up alumna and is currently a Security Control Analyst at a Financial Firm in Maryland. 

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