As entrepreneurs, we’re always looking for a mental leg up. Serious brain power is required when you are juggling all or most aspects of your business on your own. While others are content working 9-5, our crazy ambitions drive us to work 5-9. Of course, our minds are always racing even when leaving the office.
Fortunately, flexing your mental muscle does not have to be another boring task on your neverending to-do list. There are fun, competitive ways to develop the skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur.
Enter mind sports
Mind sports are defined as a group of games that aim to test your mental ability, strength, and performance. The spectrum of mind sports includes classic brain games like chess, backgammon, and contract bridge. It also covers activities you may have never considered competitive—computer programming, Rubik’s Cube, and numerous video games.
Let’s take a look at five mind sports that will grow the skills you need to be a winning entrepreneur.
You know how it feels to be an unsolved Rubik’s cube if you’re an entrepreneur. Many days the colors are out of whack. You’re required to perform strategic twisting on all sides to solve the 3D-puzzle that is your business.
Ernő Rubik, an instructor at the Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts in Budapest, Hungary, invented his namesake game in 1974. He envisioned the Rubik’s Cube as a tool for teaching students how to solve structural problems in systems with independently moving parts without compromising the entire system.
Entrepreneurs are wise to heed Rubik’s vision. We must master each independent function of our business to improve overall operations.
Chess enjoys a longstanding reputation as a brain game for good reason–strategy, visualization, and experience go into every single move.
The same rings true for successful startups where every step in building the company is critical. Successful entrepreneurs take a methodical approach to decision making, anticipating how the current move will impact future moves. They visualize the proverbial chessboard and anticipate winning possibilities in the face of shifting resistance.
That’s not to say every move works out, whether in chess or business. And that’s OK. Chess teaches that rewards come with risks. Entrepreneurs certainly know how risky launching new ideas can be.
High emotions, bold bluffs, and tense maneuvering are just a few of the visceral aspects shared by poker and business. On the mental side, both endeavors require deep focus, thinking, and self-awareness.
However, one of the most valuable takeaways an entrepreneur can glean from poker is how to recognize multiple personality stereotypes. The people you engage with on your entrepreneurial journey, whether employees, clients, or competitors, will fit one of several profiles. Managing relationships gets easier once you identify the strategy and goals of those in your business sphere.
Are you trying to grow your company’s share in a competitive marketplace? Consider yourself playing an entrepreneurial game of go.
Go, or baduk, is an abstract strategy board game that originated in China about 2,500 years ago. Two players move black and white stones on empty intersections or points of a board arranged in a 19×19 grid. The winner is the player who commands a larger area of the board, thus pinning in the opponent.
Go is a game that requires players to see the big picture while valuing the move of each stone. Players employ creative strategies and pattern recognition to connect the stones in order to win.
Many entrepreneurs and executives in Korea are avid go players, including Koo Bon-moo, former chairman of LG Group.
ESports represent a wide range of competitive, multi-player video games. The gambit stretches from sports franchises such as FIFA (soccer) and Madden (football) to first-person shooters like Call of Duty.
Peak performers in ESports are much like their counterparts in physical sports. They mentally prepare for competition, visualize winning, and focus intently on the game.
Entrepreneurs need the same kind of preparedness in business. After all, business is sport at the end of the day.
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