Having recently visited my family for the Thanksgiving holiday, I started to think about some of the daily business practices that a professional might have throughout their career while playing (read: losing) multiple board games against my family. With that being said, I couldn’t help but notice so many similarities between the rules, the layout, the skillset required of each game and ways to progress through one’s career, or with a new client or simply in their individual company. Here are some of the board games that highlight what I mean:
Chutes and Ladders
Everyone talks about the climb in career as well as failing. Keep this game in mind when building your career. Don’t think a single failure is the end of the line for you with a position, a task, or even a company. As in Chutes and Ladders, often times the most important step you can take is actually the one that moves you back—further from where you ever thought you would be. But treat these steps as gained perspective, and get to your next position. In these cases, it’s critical to remember that sometimes you can’t look at your opponent, but rather yourself and your own positioning. Relearn the board from where you are and go.
People often claim that Jenga is solely a game of balance, which couldn’t be farther from the truth! Jenga is a game of focus and precision. As in many situations in your career, you must focus on many details at one time, and then move with the precision of a surgeon using his scalpel. Balance is the end game, but focus is how you stay balanced. Look at the pieces in front of you and find the one that can wiggle, and once you do that, find the one that can’t—move accordingly. Your career is a constant test of balance—focusing on you, your clients, the company, your goals. But just like in Jenga, you don’t win in a single move, but you absolutely can lose. Be patient.
Point-blank this game might not be what you were thinking about when it comes to running a business or progressing in your career, but the game of Monopoly is a perfect example of how learning the true rules of the game, and “sweating the details” can make you a smarter player (read: professional). Don’t believe me? Have you ever played Monopoly against someone who surprised you with mortgaging a hotel they bought on Broadway after playing with someone whose only focus was being the top-hat piece and not the dog? It’s a very different game when you play with someone who is going to make you really think and plan ahead for your next steps. Find these people. Work with them, and learn from them—your toughest opponents can often be your greatest allies as they are the ones that will challenge you to think.
So there you have it, three modern-day board games that you can apply to your professional career. As in life, these games are designed to kick you around a bit, put you in challenging positions, force you to work against the clock and just when you want to throw in the towel and never play this stupid game again, you’ll pull the right Jenga piece, climb the ladder and reach the top, or maybe even land on Broadway with enough money to buy the lot! Just remember, you’re not the only one on the board.