I’ve had some great comments, both public and private as a result of my ‘Where is your Success Ladder leaning?’ post – thank you to all of you, it’s great to know you’re reading!

I’ve recently taken that same story out on ‘4Sight tour’ at 4Networking breakfast meetings and it’s produced some interesting reactions there too.

90% of the audience at 4N meetings is people in self-employment and many of them have made a similar transition to me from corporate life to running their own businesses.

For some, their experience whilst climbing the ‘corporate ladder’ caused them to slide down a snake before finding a different ladder to climb.  Some have climbed numerous ladders, leaning against different walls, before discovering that the accumulative learning from all those climbs actually enabled their current success, having positioned their ladder against the right wall – See Tim Johnson’s comment here.

This ‘Snakes and ladders’ analogy came to me as I considered the similarities between life and business and the board game we all know and love.  And so I put my thoughts on email to editor and friend, Mark Beaumont Thomas and asked him for his thoughts.

What he sent back to me so brilliantly captured my thoughts that I am posting it here in its entirety.

Snakes and Ladders

I can still picture the particular snakes and ladders graphics on the version of the game I had as a kid and I’m sure you can with yours too. Why did we love that board game so much?  After all, there really is no skill involved: your fate is governed entirely by the shake of a dice:  Land on a good square and you go up, a bad square and you go down.  But in fact, as you play it, you experience all sorts of useful emotions.

Over-confidence creeps in as you get two or three ladders in a row, which then makes the next snake seem a bigger blow.  There’s complacency as you near the top, only to hit that long snake about 4 squares from the end. Petulance and a claim that things are ‘unfair’, when you hit snake after snake.  Ruthless competitiveness creeps in, and also schadenfreude (I love that word), that “mischievous delight in the misfortune of others”.  It is this, let’s face it, which is at the heart of the game.  It’s a guilty pleasure, but one that really must stay within the confines of the board.

I guess the single most refreshing and energising thing I have found with 4Networking in particular, is an almost complete lack of schadenfreude, and in fact a feeling of its complete reverse: a willingness to share people’s pain, an eagerness to help people who’ve encountered a series of snakes.  Fellow networkers rally round to not just find ladders, but often to provide them, in the form of advice and practical help.  It is a genuine support network.

In self-employment, in my opinion, compared with making a living in the corporate world, there are far more rewarding ladders, but, let’s face it, there are also deadlier, more unpredictable snakes.  So, it’s good to know that when the shake of the dice goes against you, that networking provides a great way of helping you get back into the game.

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Mark Beaumont-Thomas of Lexicon Marketing is also editor of 4Community Magazine.

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