THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Snakes and Ladders

The Board is your business and your life. The Dice are the choices you make – and how hard you try (high score/low score). The Squares are the progress you make by showing up every day – one day at a time, one square at a time. The Ladders are the moments of truth, the opportunities and relationships that accelerate you forward – that build capital and not just income. The Snakes are the situations, things and relationships that have us sliding back down the board emotionally, physically and financially. The “twist” is that Snakes are clever – they can disguise themselves as Ladders, beguile you into climbing and, when you are half-way up or more, suddenly reveal their true colours and either devour you or watch you slide back down. The Rules are that you have to play – the Dice must be thrown and choices must be made. How do you win? By getting to the Top Square – at which point you have enough secure capital to step off the Board (or, as Robert Kiyosaki would say “get out of the rat race”). It is OK after that to open a new game on a new Board – provided you have secured your first result. How many of us never get to the Top Square on our first Board? How many more of us spend a lifetime trying – repeating the same mistakes, never realising that Ladders are the fast-track to the top but constantly beguiled by clever Snakes who promise us an easier Ladder? Ultimately, it seems there are some universal truths:

  1. without Ladders, you are an employee or sole-trader and the route to the top will be slow and arduous – but low risk

  2. with Ladders, you are an entrepreneur and leader and the route to the top can be rapid – but high risk and…

  3. Snakes are very good at disguise and beguilement

Looking at my own life, I’ve made quite a few mistakes. Far too much time as an employee and a sole trader. I’ve neared the top Square a few times, only to find myself sliding down a Snake (sometimes all my friends shouted “Snake! Snake!” and I didn’t listen). Sometimes I’ve landed on a Ladder and either not had the courage or the foresight to recognise it as genuine – then carried on past. Sometimes (but not very often) I’ve just not rolled the Dice with enough enthusiasm. I’ve also been back to the first Square on more than one occasion – and then just picked up the Dice and started rolling again. After all – what choice is there back at Square One, other than to roll? I can see that the one thing I have done right is to keep playing. What I need to do more of is

  1. examine the Ladders more carefully

  2. climb the Ladders more often and

  3. stick to the ones that are the toughest (there really is no easy way to the top)

I suspect my relationship with Snakes may not yet be over – but one thing is for sure – I’ll just keep rolling. How about you? Keep your eyes out for Snakes disguised as Ladders – they always talk a good fight and make big promises of an easy ascent. There ain’t no such thing. (with thanks to Ian Jones for the inspiration)

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