The Game of Life

The year is 2009. The entire family is gathered around the dinner table. Everyone has a cup of hot chocolate and they are geared for a red-hot game of Monopoly. Fast forward to me buying Clifton and putting a hotel up, paying rent for my sister’s house in Benoni and ultimately having to mortgage everything two turns later.

The world of Monopoly can turn sour quickly…and within moments of hot chocolate being enjoyed, a family can be wrecked.

That's Life.

Monopoly is a good metaphor for life. So are various other games out there. They create this ‘safe space’ to test various scenarios in life without major consequences (Other than being thrown with a dice or two.) In the game you can buy all the houses you want until you’re broke, you can be sent to jail and simply wait two turns to get out and by some dumb luck you can be the poorest bastard in the game and still win the game by landing on a free parking.

In life, it doesn't exactly work as easy as that because the consequences for our actions are much more severe. What if it did, however? If you think about it, life too has a lot to do with luck, just like in games. It has a lot to do with how you play and what choices you make. The whole reason board games are so effective as simulators for life, is that we can try out tactics in the game before we implement it in our lives. Remember too, that hard work is also a crucial attribute we need in life, but more than that, life requires a strategy.

Monopoly’s strategy.

Although the idea behind Monopoly is a bit outdated, the strategy used to win is still a valuable lesson for all. I won’t give away exactly what tactic I use, just to prevent playing against you in the future with my approach. What I will share however is that you need a game plan before going into the game. Sure, not everything in life needs a plan and a definitive strategy but navigating life in general with some sort of idea what we want to achieve, will help us enjoy it much more.

I have a game called Anti-Monopoly which is based on the above mentioned game (obviously), but with a few twists. Instead of trying to monopolize the whole board, the competitors try to form alliances in order to work out the monopolists and visa versa. The lesson here the, is synergy. When we approach life in isolation, we might not get as far as we could with a team.

Take RISK(s)

As well as having synergy as a strategy, we need to be more outgoing in life (I am preaching to myself here too.) The other game that has a knack of ruining friendships is RISK, but despite it’s damaging abilities…it has a handful of lessons we can apply to life, including synergy...that is, until you reach a point where you have to defeat the other person, but let's leave that out of the synergy lesson for now.

When we go head to head with someone, the risk we take by throwing the dice, should teach us that sometimes in life we need to just take a chance. You never know, maybe the chance you take will lead to you taking over Australia or something.

On a serious note, taking calculated risks should be a daily habit if you ask me. In his book, Can’t Hurt Me, David Goggins talks about the ‘governor’ in our brains. Although it’s a valuable part of our system, the governor sometimes limits our ability to excel in life. The same is true for our risk-taking part. When we wait until we have all the answers before we take the leap, we will never jump.

Games should be enjoyed.

Lastly, although most games turn out hostile in a family full of competitive beings…the end goal for them is to be enjoyed. The same is true with life. Sure, we will have problems: houses to buy, ladders to climb and 25 UNO cards to pick up…but if we can enjoy life through it all, it will be a much better ride.

Get a strategy, get a team, take risks and enjoy life…you only get one, anyway!



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