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How Childhood Games Have Prepared Us for Success in Life

How Childhood Games Have Prepared Us for Success in Life


Bright sunshine, lemonade stands, water sprinklers, and childhood games stand out in my mind as shiny, summer moments of my childhood. When I think back to those golden moments of carefree life, I hear the laughter of my friends and revisit in my mind’s eye of friendly competition between us as we made up games, or played the classics.

Freeze tag was a popular childhood classic game, where we would run around and pretend we couldn’t move when whoever was “it” would tag us. Silently encouraging our teammates to pull us back in the game, we would impatiently wait to be able to run again.  Or another popular childhood classic game, Red Light, Green Light, where we would again have one child be “it”, and would run until they called red light, stopping as quick as we could so we didn’t have to go all the way back to the starting line.

Childhood prepares us for adulthood. The most important lessons we learn from our childhood games are a direct result of failures in the game. As Bill Gates said, “Its fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

In today’s Start-Stop-Continue economy, I feel there are three lessons your business can learn from children’s playground games.

Progression and Forward Movement

In the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins*, the author outlines an idea he called the Stockdale Paradox. The essence of the idea is to embrace the reality of your situation, while still retaining hope for it to be better.  Stockdale explained this idea as “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Confronting your current situation realistically, brutally honest with yourself, is the most advantageous way for you to get ahead. Mapping out your current path and trajectory gives you a road map for success, but if your roadmap has errors, white lies, and inconsistencies, you can’t really make an accurate map.   You can’t make a path forward unless you know the path you are on. Sometimes the path has a red light, sometimes your path has a green light and in today’s economy, it will certainly have all kinds of Start-Stop Continue activities.

Don’t be afraid or hesitate to ask someone to help with this stage.  Being hypercritical of the facts that surround your business right now may not be a pretty process but there is absolutely no way to improve your situation and move forward without this assessment.

Agility and Flexibility

In Red Light, Green Light, we would concentrate and respond quickly to the cues, to be able to continue our forward movement.  Sound advice for any business.  The ability of your business to rapidly adapt to market and environmental conditions is key.

Your cues may come from a variety of places now. The stock market, podcasts, news reports, white papers, independent and internal research are all sources you can use to gain clearer insights into what’s going on in your business and market area.  One source of information may not give you all of the cues that you need though, so be sure to diversify sources.

All of the information you glean will start to piece together a clear picture in your mind of where you and your business fit into the worldview.  This information will help you to make educated decisions that allow your company to become flexible at a moment’s notice.   That flexibility may take many forms, for instance, working from home due to a positive Covid-19 test, or creating a new product line that helps to solve a current shortage in a supply chain.   Get creative!  Look for inspiration in places that have nothing to do with your industry.  You may be surprised at how your brain can draw a parallel to help inspire you!

Seek the right opportunity

Waiting with anticipation for the right move was critical to success in Freeze Tag. You had to avoid being “frozen” while also looking for the right opportunity to help your team advance. This could be waiting, or running – but you must be on the lookout for the right moment to make your move. The wrong moment could spell disaster for your company. Just like in Red Light, Green Light, moving at the wrong opportunity could mean starting all over.  Your laser focus on the goal was tantamount to your success.

A recent Forbes article** (which I highly recommend for a quick read) offers advice about using what your business has on hand. The author says “The first way to take a problem and turn it into an opportunity is to assess what you have on hand.…. In reality, what you already have could be used to create other opportunities.”  He goes on to talk about how companies like Tesla, Hanes, and others took existing equipment and materials to help with shortages in the current market, even though they had no previous experience in those markets.  A novel approach to business, but one that is working! Just check out Tesla’s stock price right now and compare it back to March of this year when our economy went into shut down mode. Incredible.

In Summary:

Your agility and creativity today is necessary for your company to be able to make forward movement. Keep your positive energy up and keep going strong! Realistically evaluate yourself and your business, so you have an accurate road map ahead. In this Start-Stop-Continue economy, you have to be ready to jump at a moment’s notice!

Geoffrey Chaucer said, “Time and tide wait for no man.”  You might as well take that to say opportunity waits for nobody. Stay flexible and remain nimble while being informed, and continue to seek opportunities to increase your forward movement in your business because this Start-Stop-Continue economy is going to be with us for a while that much we all know for sure. Best of luck to all of you as we Red Light – Green Light our way to sustainable business success during these very unpredictable economic times that we are living in today.

Until Next Time,
Your Staffing Partner, Darrin Rohr- President, CEO and Chief Servant
Darrin Rohr