When I was 5 years old my father began to teach me to play many games many of which involved strategy.
These included Stratego, Pente, Legos, Checkers, Monopoly, Risk, and Chess. I can only imagine the patience it must have taken to explain the rules to one each one, be kind enough to support decisions that would help me win, and encouragement to keep playing when I lost. My brother also played with my Dad and I too. We would have competitions and sometimes play for hours and hours into the night. Until now, I had not realized this time my father spent with me would give me the fundamental skill sets I would use today in business.
The 3 skill sets he taught me were critical thinking, creativity, and the confidence to overcoming making mistakes.
The game of chess involves many moves of multiple pieces and at any time your strategy can change from each opponent’s move. Every time one of your pieces gets taken unexpectedly you must first accept it as a loss, acknowledge the opponent for their win, and rethink your next opportunity to checkmate the king. One move might require multiple alternatives thought in advance before the hand releases the piece from the new square.
When using technology you must acknowledge that there are multiple alternatives to obtaining the same results. It doesn’t matter which tool you use or which method has proven to be effective in the past because the technology will always change over time.
I loved Legos because it helped me see the end product in mind, assemble the pieces together according to the chart, and create something out of nothing. Many times I would use the chart and sometime try to do it on my own sometimes having to go back and start over because I used the wrong piece in the wrong place. Other times I would take the pieces and create something entirely different what was on the picture.
You must be creative in your approach to every aspect in business from how you communicate with others face-to-face and also online. Sometimes you will have to follow a systematic process and others develop your own. My favorite Lego projects were the ones that didn’t follow the map.
The best lesson I learned was how to overcome the fear of making mistakes, learning from the outcome, and not repeating the same error. Every time I lost a chess piece I immediately would get angry at myself. It happened over and over. Soon after realizing that if I took a new approach which was creative while still working within the rules of the game there would be a new outcome that would be more satisfying.
Think of each piece of software that you attempt to learn as a system. This system contains many rules of what you can or cannot do and the objective is to win the game. Each move you make might not give you the desired result however it is your mental perception of how you perceive the mistake which will give you the ability to overcome the mistake and move forward. I have deleted entire presentations that have taken me 3 hours to create. I lost those 3 hours of my time and was mad at myself because I had to recreate the entire project. But did I really lose? No. I developed my skill sets of making a good presentation. In fact the 2nd one was ten times better. I learned shortcuts which made the next one faster to create and learned the valuable lesson of backing up the presentation so I would never have this problem again.
I’m pretty lucky to have had a Dad who cared for me enough to teach me games that have helped me develop the mind I have today. He was patient in teaching me the rules especially when I would put the pieces in my mouth. Dad, if you read this I want you to know I love you and very thankful to have you as a cheerleader.
For you new and experience Dad’s out there know that the time you spend with your children continues to make a difference in their lives. Invest in their minds in hope that it will one day make them successful.
What games did you play when you were younger that helped you…
Become more creative?
Overcome the fear of making mistakes?
On a personal note my Dad Sohrab, Soli for short, and also known as Sal is a regular karaoke singer. His favorite songs are “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond, “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, and “Oh My Papa” by Eddie Fisher. Catch him at Harpo’s Chesterfield on a random Friday or Saturday night.
Happy Fathers Day to as a Father, wife, son, or daughter!
May you spend time with them in person, via Skype, or in spirit in a way you will always remember.