Know the Game

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What do a T-Rex, Rubber Ducky and a Penguin have in common? They are all new tokens that will be added to the classic board game Monopoly. Why is this relevant to your job search? If you are even remotely thinking about switching careers, you need to treat it like a game. And if you’re going to play the game, you need to know the rules, the pieces and your opponents.

The Rules

Hasbro has made things simpler when playing one of their classic board games. Each box comes with a set of rules that you can play with your family and friends. Let’s face it, most of us have never read the rules of how to “officially” play Monopoly, have we? We learned it from others who have played the game before and have only consulted the Official Guide when bankruptcy seemed inevitable. This creates tension and turmoil when your friends come over to play and they have been playing by a completely different set of rules. Did you know that Monopoly rules demand that when players land on a space, such as Park Place, but do not choose to purchase the property, an auction must take place? The idea is that a bidding war will prompt another player to buy the space, and so the game will speed up.

However, many players usually skip this stage in ignorance and restart play, meaning the Park Place property will be available until someone lands on it again – which could be hours later.

When relating to real life, this has a lot of cross over. You may be looking for your first civilian job after the military and you don’t know any of the rules. Imagine you’re a combat medic and you have been giving top notch medical care to your team on deployment. You get ready to transfer out of the military and find out that you are not “qualified” to treat others due to state or federal regulations. This happened to me and I quickly found a mentor to teach me the rules.

New Pieces

Hasbro fired up their PR machine and crowdsourced people for their thoughts. Over 4.3 million people voted to configure the eight tokens for the classic game. They replaced the boot, wheelbarrow and thimble. This was a great move by them to reach out to families who play their games and to have them involved in improving one of their signature games.

Sadly, our military didn’t get the same opportunity. Over the last eight years we saw such a reduction in our military that active duty members were sent “pink slips” while on deployment. We saw new recruits coming into the military with literally no experience, while more senior Non-Commissioned Officers were taken off the board.

It showed me that pieces (and people) can be replaced. It also showed me to be prepared and how to improve my chances of winning. I’ve learned to keep my resume and LinkedIn updated with projects, awards and references. When you’re looking to move your piece off the board, some of the best items to have are reference letters from trusted sources. These include your peers, those you’ve volunteered for and those in elected/appointed positions in the community.

I found that the more people I talked with, the more stories I learned and how I could relate to others. This led to networking and how to connect others to what they were looking for in life. My mentor taught me that my net worth is my network. He showed me how to surround myself with others who were on a similar path. There is just something about being on a TEAM and doesn’t it just make sense to pick your own star players?

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My Opponents

My mom usually played the role of the banker when we played Monopoly and that allowed me to focus on strategy and perfecting my amazing dice-rolling abilities. That would be great if it were true but it allowed me to slack off and not pay attention to which player had more money and properties. I quickly found out that I was my worst opponent.
After losing too many times, I volunteered to be the banker and found out that I was giving away one of the main advantages of the game! Being the banker taught me to watch what people were spending, what they were buying and how quickly money and property changed hands in the game.

This is very critical in your transition too. If you took an assessment of where you are on the board and where you want to go – what would you have to DO in order to get there? Is there a skill that would help you get there quicker? If you use that skill to also help others, the word will quickly spread and others will be drawn to you. You’ll be a Center of Influence in short order and those are the people that get on the “short lists” to be hired. If you’re honest with yourself, there is probably something that you could do today that would help your chances in the near future. Pause the game and figure that out to increase your chances.

Here is a recap of what I learned:

• Get a mentor and find out what the rules of the game are so you can WIN!
• Network with other professionals and get the layout of the land.
• Become educated in strategy and learn how to leverage your strengths.
One last tip for all of you trying to land on the Free Parking space. It does not entitle the player to a cash reward. Let that sink in for a moment. Just remember, you need to have fun because at the end of the game, all of the pieces go back in the box.

- Tim Stroud


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