Monopoly, Chess and Risk: what we know about success from playing kid’s games

gamesWhen my mom and dad first divorced, my dad would pick us up on Saturday mornings and take us to his office where we played board games while he worked. It was usually only a few hours that we had to keep ourselves occupied so games like Monopoly, Parcheesi, Chess and Sorry! usually did the trick.

I remember clearly the feeling of excitement I had when we huddled up on the floor, threw the Monopoly box top aside and assembled the pieces on the board. We stacked the money in the till for the banker and sorted the houses and hotels into piles. I always had to have the small metal shoe as “my piece” because its flat bottom scooted along the cardboard with ease. I couldn’t wait to roll the dice and line up my property cards in neat color-coordinated rows along the board’s edge.

About an hour into the game, one of the three of us would usually begin to show signs of financial trouble, boredom would set in and within twenty minutes, he or she had thrown in the towel. It wasn’t long until someone else would pull ahead, stacking hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk. At this point, seeing the outcome, the remaining player(s) would quit. This is how the winner was determined: simply, the one who didn’t quit.

We’d move on then, to a different game, hoping to have better luck.  

Let’s face it, board games are still pretty predictable. Yet, seeing things turn out pretty much the same way every time, hasn’t reduced my excitement for game night at all. In fact, knowing that the winning is only a residual happenstance, I now tend to tune in more to the laughs, take greater risks and appreciate the style of play other people bring to the table.

The truth is that board games teach us a lot about “winning” in life.

Here’s what I’ve discovered. If you’re on the path to something great, don’t give up. People who stick it out, suffer the setbacks, bounce back and keep their hand in the game tend to succeed. I don’t think success has anything to do with getting to the end; I think success is really about discovering who you are and what you are made of. Success hinges on your ability to realize your greatest strengths, play to your assets, and enlist friends and allies along the way to help. These actions become a source of joy in your life and can go a long way in helping you unleash your potential, also an incredible source of happiness and fulfillment. So don’t give up.

It takes a very, very long time (sometimes a lifetime) to see all of your dreams come true. If you’re like me, you may have a lot of things you want to accomplish in life. If you expect it to happen all at once, you could get discouraged easily, which might cause you to quit before you even have a chance of succeeding. You have to learn patience, keep your eye on the board and be on the lookout for opportunities to advance your goals. Most importantly, choose a game you enjoy. If you’re not having fun along the way, you’re missing the point of it all anyway.

Don’t allow the “appearance” of other people’s success fool you into thinking that there’s not enough for you too. It can be tempting to declare someone else “the winner” and say, I guess I don’t have what it takes, or not everyone can have X, Y, or Z, but these are lies. Surprisingly, I hear people say things like this all the time! Just because someone else has what you want right now, doesn’t mean that it isn’t coming to you at some point. What’s true is that winners rotate and cycle through, so if you stay at it long enough and keep moving forward, you will get there. Play the game with interest and enthusiasm – keep the end goal in sight and especially don’t quit just because someone else “appears” to be winning instead of you.

Whatever it is you want in life, you will have to get “on board” to even have a chance of realizing it. So throw off the box top, roll the pieces around in your palm, blow on the dice and settle in for some fun. Today is your “Lucky Day,” one of thousands you get to have because you’ve chosen to play the game, have fun with your goals and enjoy the company of the people you get to play with this time around.

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