People are 3 times more likely to learn and retain knowledge through playing games.

Alvin Toffler The Third Wave
Grab your Top Hat and celebrate with an Old Favouite

Grab your Top Hat and celebrate with an Old Favouite

Posted by martin.parnell |

On February 6th, in 1935, the board game Monopoly first went on sale. Wikipedia states that:  Monopoly is a board game that originated in the United States in 1903 as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation is better than one in which monopolists work under few constraints and to promote the economic theories of Henry George and in particular his ideas about taxation. The current version was first published by Parker Brothers in 1935. Subtitled "The Fast-Dealing Property Trading Game", the game is named after the economic concept of Monopoly - a domination of a market by a single entity.

It is now owned and produced by the American game and toy company Hasbro. Players move around the game-board buying, trading, or selling properties, developing their properties with houses and hotels, and collecting rent from their opponents, with the goal being to drive them all into bankruptcy, leaving one monopolist in control of the economy. Since the board game was first commercially sold in the 1930s, it has become a part of popular world culture, having been locally licensed in more than 103 countries and printed in more than thirty-seven languages.

So far, over 250 million sets of Monopoly have been sold since its invention and the game has been played by over half a billion people making it possibly the most popular board game in the world.

An article in the publication Parent and Child explains that, apart from being “an easy and excellent way to spend unhurried, enjoyable time together”, playing board games have the added bonus of being “rich in learning opportunities”. They satisfy your child's competitive urges and the desire to master new skills and concepts, such as:

  • number and shape recognition, grouping, and counting
  • letter recognition and reading
  • visual perception and color recognition
  • eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity”

It goes on to say that playing board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others. Board games can foster the ability to focus, and lengthen your child's attention span by encouraging the completion of an exciting, enjoyable game. 

But, obviously, board games are not solely for children. In May 2015, the publication Health Fitness Revolution shared it’s Top 10 Health Benefits of playing board games. Board games entertain and bring people together through competitive and cooperative game play. However, board games offer a lot more than just entertainment. In fact, these games beneficially impact health in multiple aspects at any age.

  • Reduces risks for mental diseases: One of the primary benefits of playing board games is reducing the risk of cognitive decline, such as that associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Keeping your mind engaged means you are exercising it and building it stronger. A stronger brain has lower risks of losing its power. Board games help the brain retain and build cognitive associations well into old age too.
  • Lowers blood pressure:  laughing can release of endorphins which help muscles to relax and blood to circulate, which evidently will lower your blood pressure.
  • Speed up you responses:  play board games and in time you might be better at being able to find those hard-to-find car keys. Scientists at the University of Toronto assessed two groups’ ability to search for and find an object; their results showed that study participants who regularly played games were far quicker at locating the target than those who didn’t.
  • Reduce stress:  According to an online survey by RealNetworks, Inc., 64% of respondents said they play games as a way to unwind and relax and 53% play for stress relief.

Those old board games collecting dust on the top of your closet could be key to keeping your mind active and healthy. Why not close up your laptop, put down your Smart phone and spend some time seeing if you can buy some hotels, stay out of jail, avoid those snakes and experience the joy of climbing some ladders? 

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Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.

Albert Einstein
Count on the Things that are Worth Counting

Count on the Things that are Worth Counting

Posted by martin.parnell |

Sometimes, particularly in business, it can be difficult to quantify how much we contribute to the progress, efficiency and success of the company we work for. We rarely pause to consider which of our actions count and actually make a difference. 

It is worth taking the time to evaluate the different aspects of our jobs and which tasks are of true value.  It may not be surprising to find what we count as valuable. They tend to be the things we can easily list and see as part of our job description. But what about the other things we do that are not so easily identified as having an impact?

If you haven’t already done so, it might be worth starting to compile a portfolio.

On the website www.thebalance.com, I found a list of factors that are frequently addressed at interviews. It may be worth giving some thought to the issues they raise, in order for you to assess your achievements and contributions. Here are some to consider:

  • Describe specific examples of how effective you have been, changes you have implemented, and goals you have achieved. Think about the depth and breadth of related experience that you have within the company.
  • Have you increased a company’s sales record by a certain percentage? Did you raise a certain amount of funds for an organization? Numbers offer a concrete example of how you have contributed to a company, and how you will likely contribute in the future.
  • Do you have the ability to effectively meet challenges, and the flexibility and diplomacy to work well with other employees and with management?  Do you have any specific qualities or skills that are particularly important? Do you have work samples?

You are entitled to be valued for everything you do. Also, if your employer is aware that you are you are having an impact, you will make yourself indispensable.

In an article for Forbes magazine, Caroline Ceniza-Levine, looked at “Seven Contributions Indispensable Employees Make To Their Companies” and asked us to consider them in regard to our own work practices:

Bottom line impact

Bottom line impact is one contribution indispensable employees make. Look at your activities to generate revenue – are you directly involved in selling? Are you supporting sales via marketing, operations or administrative support? Do you keep costs in line and therefore contribute more directly to profitability?

Productivity

Indispensable employees are efficient and effective at their jobs. Efficient employees are quick to completion and not wasteful of resources, including management time. Effective employees do their jobs at high quality. Are you both efficient and effective in your role? Do you need to focus on building better systems and habits to deliver more efficiently? Or do you need to upgrade your skills and expertise to perform more effectively?

Positivity

Indispensable employees are enjoyable to work with. We all know of a colleague people dread collaborating with. We also all know colleagues that people love to work with. You look forward to seeing them. After interacting with them, you’re more energized. You don’t have to be friends with everyone in your company but you want to be that colleague with the positive energy. Are you easy and enjoyable to work with?

Reliability

Indispensable employees deliver what they promise and on time. Can people count on you? What is still on your To Do list that others are waiting for?

Creativity

Indispensable employees come up with ideas or ask thoughtful questions to encourage ideas. At the next meeting, aim to add at least one helpful comment or make one supportive remark to someone else’s comment. Focus on solutions to problems that are raised. In your day-to-day role, think about how you might approach one of your responsibilities differently. This may lead to an increase in productivity or in your perceived positivity. How can you be more creative in your current role?

Diplomacy 

Indispensable employees know how to navigate office relationships.  As with positivity, you don’t have to be friends with everyone, but indispensable employees figure out how to get things done – collect valuable information, enrol colleagues into helping them even when there is no official reporting relationship. Are you able to handle your colleagues in a way that generates little or no ill will? Do you need to listen more, communicate more clearly, or be more engaging? 

Marketability

Indispensable employees are valuable to their company externally, not just internally. Whether it’s having a client-facing role, such as sales or customer service, or it’s being a brand ambassador for your company in recruiting, industry conferences or other professional events.  Are you knowledgeable about your company overall? Can you be compelling and informatively explain to people why they should work at your employer or do business with your employer?

So, why not take out your job description and see if you are truly fulfilling the different aspects of your job and furthermore, why not jot down all the additional things you do?

It will be something to take to your next personnel review.

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By seeking and blundering we learn.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
How you Handle a Mistake can Define your Character

How you Handle a Mistake can Define your Character

Posted by martin.parnell |

We’ve all heard the expression “We all make mistakes” and it’s true. There isn’t an adult on Earth who, sometime during their life, hasn’t made some and there are others who’ve made quite few. But even when a mistake can seem so glaring and awful, it’s the way you handle that mistake and what you learn from it that can turn something which appears so negative to have a positive side. 

During my “Quests for Kids” initiative, when I was tackling my 10 endurance quests, in the hope of raising one million dollars, for the charity Right To Play, I confess to making a few mistakes and one I remember, in particular. 

I had decided I would attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest marathon run in full lacrosse gear. At 6.45am on Sunday May 26th 2013, I lined up with approximately 13,000 runners for the start of the 49th Scotiabank Calgary Marathon. Despite this being a new record attempt, the administrators at Guinness had set me a sub four hour target and this was certainly not going to be a walk in the park. 

However, for the month prior, I had been training in full kit and, having previously run nearly 300 marathons, I was feeling confident. I had a plan and I felt all I needed to do was stick to it. I would run to an aid station then take a drink of my water / nutrition mix. A key piece of technology that I had with me was my Helmet 4iiii’s Sportiiii’s. This little gizmo, attached to my helmet, would give me an audio heart rate and pace at two minute intervals. To achieve the record I would have to maintain a 5min 30sec per kilometre pace and keep my heart rate below 166 beats per minutes. 

Things started off well and the kilometres ticked by. My first problem occurred around km 28. The sun was getting hotter and hotter and my heart rate hit 165. I was starting to feel some cramping in my legs, so I increased my electrolyte intake. I was still on pace but the heat was beginning to take its toll. By km 34 things were starting to go sideways. My heart rate hit 175 and I was getting light headed. The next 4 kilometres were a blur. I kept my head up and shoulders back and tried to stay up with the runner in front of me. My head was cooking and my buddies were pouring water through the vents of my helmet.  

At km 38 everything fell apart. My legs became rubber and started to spasm. My heart rate spiked at 190 and I finally dropped off a sub 4 hour pace. I jogged the next 3 km in a daze. The final 1 km I walked. With 300m to go I could hear the crowd cheering in the stadium. I turned into the final 150m stretch and with the cheers of the crowd started up a shuffle / run. I crossed the line and collapsed. Medics were there and fellow runner Ally helped me to the medical tent. They laid me down, wrapped me in a silver blanket and feed me apple juice. My final time was 4 hours 18 minutes and 58 seconds. Not a Guinness World Record. 

The mistake I made was not taking into consideration how the weather would play such an important role. I had failed to factor in the effect heat would have on me running that distance, dressed as I was  and how I would deal with it. Lesson learned. But that was something very personal to me. 

When you make a mistake in business, it’s a whole different matter. Unless you are self-employed, you can almost guarantee that a mistake you make will have a knock-on effect. In his article “How To Handle Mistakes So They Don't Harm Your Career”, published in Forbes magazine, Victor Lipman, offers  some simple, constructive steps that can make  mistakes less problematic . Here are some of his comments: 

Admit what you did was wrong - Evasion will get you nowhere.  Most of the time it only frustrates your management. 

Take full responsibility for the error - OK, so you did something wrong.  Don't try to come up with fanciful excuses for it.   Take ownership and responsibility. 

Explain what you learned from it and why you won't do it again - It's OK to make mistakes, but it's not OK to keep making the same one over and over.

Most of all, mistakes can be a chance to show the kind of employee, and person, you are. A mistake can actually be a positive opportunity to demonstrate character - to show you're a person who's honest, forthright, and can be trusted to tell the truth in a difficult situation.  

Mistakes are part of life and most of them can be rectified, but whether they can or not, it’s the way you handle them that defines your character and professionalism. 

Just remember, everyone makes them.

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Here's some advice. Stay alive.

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
Risk versus Reward, is it Worth it?

Risk versus Reward, is it Worth it?

Posted by martin.parnell |

I recently read a story about a snowmobiler who had been reported lost, near Revelstoke, BC. Fortunately, a rescue helicopter spotted him, some 2 hours later and he had come to no serious harm.

What I found most interesting was the first line of the report, on the CBC website, which read.........

“Being prepared likely saved a Hinton, Alta. man from serious harm after spending a chilly night on a mountainside while snowmobiling.” said RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky. He went on to say "He was an experienced sledder, he had a good sled, he had the usual items, the backpack with the gear.”

RCMP recommend anyone heading into the backcountry carry a shovel, probe and beacon with them along with food and water and be dressed to possibly spend the night. "Most people laugh at that idea... but as we can hear, this gentleman didn't [plan to spend the night] either, but he was prepared by having the right gear."

Another story, the following day, reported that “Rescue crews have found the remaining four of the seven people who went missing Monday while visiting a ski resort near Kamloops, B.C.” But, what struck me about this story was   “KSAR spokesman Alan Hobler said earlier that the seven had gone out of bounds at Sun Peaks and into a hazardous gully.”

Why it is that people will still take the risk of going out of bounds, not only risking their own safety, but when lost or injured become a drain on the rescue services?

Some years ago, my wife, Sue, was having treatment from a dentist, in Calgary. Great guy, early thirties with a wife and two young children.

One Tuesday, she went along to the surgery, for her scheduled appointment and the place was in chaos, the receptionist was in tears and could only apologise that they hadn’t contacted Sue to cancel her appointment. The reason being, her dentist and a friend had been killed, 3 days before, caught in an avalanche, whilst they were skiing out of bounds.

During my ‘Quests for kids” initiative, I did some fairly crazy things, but I always took safety precautions, and weighed the risks.   None of us are infallible. No matter how experienced we may be in a venture, it’s never worth ignoring advice, especially when it comes to dealing with the unpredictable nature of our surroundings.

If you are tempted to go out of bounds or ignore the advice of experts, stop and ask yourself,” How would your family and friends feel if they received a call telling them you would not be going home, because you thought you knew better?”

Nine times out of ten, people survive these needless risks, but there’s always the chance you’ll be that other person.

Is it really worth it”

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