I really dig board games.
Currently I’m playing a game called Pandemic Legacy. It has an interesting twist because it’s a cooperative game where the players work together to beat the game. In this case, we’re trying to cure epidemics that are spreading around the globe (yeah, it’s not necessarily a “peppy” game). And as a “legacy” game, the effects of one game carry over into the next, so the pressure to win is always on.
And that’s what the game is great at: creating tense, high-stakes moments. You’re just as likely to lose as you are to win, and the game keeps changing the rules on you. You are always walking a tight-rope with too few resources and too little time. It requires strategy, teamwork, and clarity to win.
Simplicity for the Win
Recently I was playing a round with my wife Helen and friend Rob. It had been a challenging go, and we had started the game behind the 8-ball. The zombie plague was getting out of hand (we got a little creative), and the revived Bubonic plague and Ebola were ravaging the globe.
But we persevered, and towards the end we thought we had a win lined up. Almost. Rob and I were out of our seats, hovering over the board, hashing out a strategy. We were throwing out ever more complex ideas for how we could wrap up the game and get out with a win. But we couldn’t quite make it work. We kept coming up a little bit short.
This went on for almost ten minutes (I told you it can get intense). Our win was slipping away.
Then my wife, who had been calmly studying the board, stopped us and said, “You know, you can just set up a base in Madrid, move down this line to Sao Paolo, and then we’d win this turn.” We both looked at her, looked at the board, and then started high-fiving because she was absolutely right. It was so simple, we had passed right over it.
Intentionally Clear the Complicated Away
Luckily, most of us aren’t trying to cure a deadly disease. But we all fall prey to over-complicating things. Our work projects, our relationships, and even our goals can become convoluted and burdened with extra thinking.
When you look at the areas that you want to create movement in, ask yourself, “How could I find a solution by removing, rather than adding, complexity?”
It’s not always easy to cut away that excess, but it’s rewarding when you do. Get an outside perspective if you need one, or come back to a situation after a break so that you have new eyes. Often, we’re closer to a solution than we think. It’s just the baggage that has accumulated along the way that bogs everything down. Get rid of some of those mental barnacles that have built up, and you’ll find that you are moving forward quickly and easily.