An average work day is like playing Chutes and Ladders or Tetris or Aggravation. That’s how I explain adulthood to my kids.
In Chutes and Ladders, you start out at the bottom of the board and roll the dice. Some spots have ladders that shoot you up higher on the board. Others have slides that shoot you back down the board. There is one very disheartening long slide near the end that makes every player groan when they land on it. The whole point of the game is to get to the end or top of the board.
In Tetris, you work with shapes arranging and organizing them to clear the screen. You must prepare for what comes next and you must never let yourself get backed up cause things just pile up and bury you and you lose.
The one game I find most like adult life in work mode is Aggravation and the title says it all. Basically, the rules are you leave home and you gotta make it around the board to return to safety at home. You can get messed with by other players and some spots can move you faster to home.
Ok, so Chutes and Ladders in adult work life…imagine you got a project that requires input or teamwork from multiple departments. You go to Department A to discuss a form that needs to be filled out. You go back to your desk to fill out the form. Now, you go to points B,C, and D to get supervisor signatures for the form. Some coworkers will move you up their ladder, others may make you wait or disapprove so you gotta go down a “slide” to redo the form. So, you get the form filled out and approved but then it’s gotta go to E,F,G,and H to get paid and G is the long slide that perhaps loses the paperwork and sends you back sliding all the way down to step A. But fortunately, you scanned a copy to yourself of the fully signed and approved form so you shoot back up a big ladder again to Department G to present a paper copy of the scan. How to manuever work processes…that is the lesson Chutes and Ladders teaches you. Always back up your work.
Tetris is like that TV episode of I Love Lucy in the chocolate factory working the line. You gotta pace yourself right at work. Steadily push projects and goals along and make to do lists to remind yourself as you juggle multiple tasks. Like Tetris, everything has to be done in order and pre-planned and executed well or you could get jammed up and then be putting in the overtime pedaling like hell to fix the logjam or Tetris jam. Also, remember that the reward for good work is more work. That’s how you can also get in trouble when a supervisor speeds up delivery time expectations or amount of product to complete based on observation of your work achievement. Work smarter, not harder. Don’t give too much and don’t give too little. You gotta keep some fuel in reserves. Old Chinese proverb is you want something done, you give it to a busy man. Less inertia according to physics laws of motion. However, too much motion can cause lack of control so the busy man rolls too fast and goes over the cliff so to speak. Not too much, not too little….temperance especially in work.
Aggravation is a very aggravating game. You leave home to go to work and you put in your shift hours so you can return safely to your home place. But on your commute, your car breaks down. You get it up and running but you’re late to work and you get noticed. So you work quietly and hard but then an email notifies you a project is changed or a coworker needs assistance on something or a family member texts they need you to help them go to their doc appointment. You move forward on several meetings but you forgot to do this or that and now you got it on your action agenda. Etc. Etc. You get the gist of it….a lot of effort and energy expended for one day’s sunrise and sunset to make it home finally for dinner and TV.
It’s like a horse race where you gotta get going right outta the gate, make one hard and heavy lap around, try not to stumble, and then when it’s over, you can rest. Or a car race….and watch out for that slipstream guy.
In the series, Squidgame…the games are based on childhood activities. From Monopoly to Clue to Sorry to Mastermind…there’s a lot to be learned about adult business life from old games. It could make an interesting semester business course for college students….how to apply the things we learn from childhood games to adult life.