Recently, I was playing Monopoly with my husband. I did everything right from a strategy standpoint: I bought blocks of property, mortgaged all the worthless non-monopoly properties and proceeded to build massive developments on my properties. All my unsuspecting husband had to do was land on any one of my three building developments and the game would be over.
Alas, I did not factor for chance.
Because I had built my hotels quickly, I had no money left and nothing left to mortgage. But this wasn’t a worry. I had all the developments and he had nothing. I was like a passive spider waiting for the fly to just happen upon its web. Unfortunately, the luck of the dice was with my husband because he literally passed by my housing developments over 20 times. He hit the “chance” island in the middle of my housing developments more times than seemed possible.
Now, really, what are the chances of that?
3.9% chance of landing on any 1 square in any 1 rotation to the 20th power. Or taking it even further, there were 4 safe squares that he bypassed 20 times (out of 10 squares). The chances of this are 1 in 100 million (.4 to the 20th). Meanwhile, I kept playing the game, landing on his $18 and $50 rent properties and managing to land on every “luxury tax” and “income tax” square there was and picking every “you owe the bank $240” community chest card possible.
How is it that I had 3 hotels, two complete monopolies yet ended up losing the game? Luck. Stinking stupid luck.
I listened to Jim Collins speak a few months ago. He said that one of the ways great companies fall is they begin to discount the role that luck has played in their rise to the top. Once that happens, ego and hubris quickly set in and you begin making decisions, forgetting that you were lucky to get where you are.
I was lucky to land on the monopolies. It wasn’t skill. It wasn’t my smarts. It wasn’t anything but luck. But then, I discounted the role of the roll and started counting on my strategy to save me.
My business lesson take-aways from the disastrous Monopoly game centered around luck, blessings and planning. Think of the ways that luck has favored you and then think of the ways you can be prepared if luck does not favor you.
At the same time, count your blessings. It is so important to be thankful for that which you have done nothing to earn (born in the US, democratic government, women that can vote, fill in the blank)
Finally, prepare as though the worst will hit you. Those who prepared in the last recession had cash for opportunities and for waiting the economy out. Don’t mortgage all your properties like I did, leaving yourself with no out, should the worst hit and luck desert you.