When I was a kid, I used to play a board game called Snakes And Ladders. You might remember it yourself. In America, it’s called Chutes And Ladders, but over here it’s called Snakes And Ladders. And the concept of the game was that it had 100 squares and each player picks a token to represent where they are on the board game. Then as each person takes their turn to roll the dice, they move forward on the squares from one to a hundred by the number of squares that matches the number that they rolled the dice on. Therefore, if a player rolls the dice and gets a three, then the player moves forward three squares and the winner of the game is the first player to reach the square 100. However, on the board game, there are snakes or chutes in America and if you land on a square that has the head of a snake, you have to slide down that snake on the board, to where the tail ends and therefore you go backwards in the game.
But then there’s also ladders on the board and when you land on a square that has the bottom of a ladder, you’re able to move up the ladder to a higher number, thereby getting closer to the square 100 and being the winner. Now, it is a great game, I really loved and enjoyed playing it and it can be really exciting when it’s played with multiple players. But you see, I use the analogy of Snakes And Ladders Life, like the board game, Snakes And Ladders, and I use that to represent how we go through life, much like the board game itself.
We are born, which can be represented by starting at square one. We’re given a body or a persona to live in, which is the token we use on the board game. We move forward year by year with the aim of getting to the ripe old age of a hundred or until we reach the success that we desire. And I know success means different things to different people, but ultimately that’s typically what we go through life as to do. Is to aim towards that either the ripe old age or to reach the level of success that we want to get to.
However, during our life, we encounter snakes. And these show up in the form of fears, addictions, depression or the events that knock us back like an illness, the death of a loved one or the breakdown of our marriage. Perhaps losing a job, losing our home or financial loss. But then there’s also the ladders that get us advancing in life such as the job promotion that we get, or our business begins to take off or we meet a new partner, we have to develop a relationship. We get a new client into our business, or perhaps when it comes to an illness, we get a clear diagnosis or even win the lottery if we’re so lucky to have such a thing or we just got a lucky break in life.
Some are big and some are small. And life is just full of these snakes and ladders for one better word. And like on the board game, in life not only does it feel we move forward and backwards, but there are also times we feel we’re literally going around in circles. We find ourselves in a pattern of taking three steps forward and then two steps back. It’s like a never-ending Ferris wheel and we’re just going around this Ferris wheel like on a treadmill and life for us, just seems to go round in circles.
But then there’re times where we get closer to our success, the level that we want and we’re just on the tip of it, and we can literally taste it. It’s actually so close and what happens is that more and more snakes start to appear. Everywhere we turn there is just a snake there ready to pull us back. And we’re on the brink of success and we’re nearly there, but we just get knocked back consistently. And some people give up in life and throw the board game off the table. Others keep going and get back on the board and get to the brink of success and in the hope that they will eventually get past all the snakes and reach that level of success that they so, so desire.
Life is like this. Life is like that Snakes And Ladders board game. But life is also like the infinity symbol that shows up as the constant ebb and flow. And the more we get into the ebb and flow of life, the easier it becomes to reach where we’re heading. We get into the flow. We get into how life meanders, up and down, back and forth and the more we get into the flow, the easier it becomes. I mean, rather than fighting against it, we actually work with it in order to get us to where we want to get to. And as we move past every increasing challenge, we too move upwards towards success. Constantly stretching. Constantly evolving. Whatever the definition of success means to you, and I want to emphasise that, each person has their own definition of success, but again we’re constantly moving towards that success, that level that we want to achieve.
But also on the Snakes And Ladders Life board game, there are the other players. They are the people that hold us back or are regularly negative around us. They bring us down. These are the people I refer to typically as the energy vampires. They pull our energy down. They suck literally every single ounce of energy out of us. They are the people that it’s not nice to be around, we don’t typically enjoy their company. They can also be the ones that we respect and because they tell us we shouldn’t do something, we take on board what they say because we respect them and therefore we don’t do these things that in our heart we would absolutely love to do. We end up not following our dreams. We end up not following our inner desire because we’ve taken on board the advice or the guidance of these people are again what I refer to as energy vampires.
And also want on the Snakes And Ladders Life board game, however, there’s also the helpers and these are the ones that support us and want to see the best of us and want the best for us and will support us in whatever way they can. And whatever we ask them, they are there to actually help us.
And some helpers may be there for a long time while other helpers may only be there for a very short period of time in our life. And sometimes we may not even recognise them as helpers, as at the times they may push our buttons or push our triggers. We may not like what they’re saying because they’re being challenging to us, but in fact, they’re actually there to stretch us and to help us to grow. And the one thing with the Snakes And Ladders Life is we don’t get to see the squares that are ahead of us. We just get to see the next square that we are to take. The next step, that one thing that we’re to do the next. We don’t get to see where all the snakes are on the board game, we don’t see where all the ladders are.
We move from one year to the next year. From one square to the next square. Literally the unknown future, we don’t perhaps know clearly where we’re heading. We have a sense, we have an idea of where perhaps where we’re heading, but we just don’t see all the steps laid out in front of us. But if we were to stand back from the board game of life and in your mind’s eye, you’re able to see the whole board laid out on the table in front of you. You could see everything that was going to happen, where all the snakes were and where all the ladders were.
You would know where you’re heading and what squares to avoid. You would see the whole thing, all the full picture in front of you, just as if you were playing the real game in real life as in the real board game. And as you play the game, the excitement lies in trying to avoid the snakes while trying desperately to get to the ladders so that you can win the game as quickly as possible. But in real life, if you had that knowledge, if you were able to see the full board game in front of you of what your life is to be like, where all the snakes are and where all the ladders are, you will do the same.
You would try and avoid all the snakes, you would just move as quickly as possible to the ladders. The thing is not knowing what’s ahead of us in life is part of the excitement. In the work that I do with my clients, I get to see the most amazing images of their purpose in life and where they’re supposed to end up. These pictures I get to see for my clients and the impact of what their life is going to be, these knowing is oftentimes absolutely breathtaking, it’s humbling, it’s absolutely exciting all at the exact same time.
But what I found over the years, rather than sharing the complete image with my clients, I need to break it down into smaller chunks, smaller pieces. If I shared a full picture of the image of what I get, they get scared or they say they don’t have the courage to do what I’m expressing from the image itself or how on earth they are going to achieve what I’m saying, I’m seeing in the image or in the knowing. Where for me what is overwhelming is the great way and the amazing what I see in where everything fits together and literally how this whole Universe works is just phenomenal. But for them it’s overwhelming and it’s a challenge.
So I’ve learned to give the picture piece by piece, much like the board game, square by square. That’s what life is like. For some, they can see it as being scary or unnerving, not knowing what lies ahead. For others, they see it as an adventure and they understand that as challenges appear or the snakes in terms of the board game as they appear, they view these challenges as a way of making them stronger in order to give them the tools that they actually need later in life in order to actually reach the level of success that you want or to reach their goal, to make the impact that they want to make, to fulfil their purpose in life. And I know this to be true.
I’ve learned that every challenge that shows up in our life is there for a reason, it’s there for a purpose. It’s like as if we go through life collecting all the tools we need in order to do the work we need to do in the future. I remember playing computer games when I was younger and in order to get to different levels in the game, you had to conquer different challenges. And each challenge was more difficult than the previous one. And as I went through the computer game, I had to collect different tokens or objects which were all to help me with the different challenges as I was going to face them throughout the different levels of the game and therefore would help me to reach to the higher level and ultimately win the game. And that’s what the Snakes And Ladders Life is like. It’s the adventure of meeting the challenges head-on and seeing them as something that are there to help us actually achieve greater things as opposed to being the obstacles that stop us.
The Snakes And Ladders Life board game as I’ve described, we can understand how it affects our state of being also, how we feel about ourselves mentally and physically. You see, each time we hit the ladder it means we move up to a higher stage of being as well, a higher state of consciousness, a higher state of knowing our true selves. Equally each time we hit a snake, we move down to a lower state of being. So, take, for example, an event that occurs in our life like our home has been threatened of repossession by the bank or we lose our job or we’ve been made redundant. This can cause us to drop to a lower state of being. This might happen over a long period of time or it can happen very, very quickly. That is what has happened in relation to the COVID- 19 scenario, whereby it happens so very, very fast in our lives.
While before we were in a higher state of being, we were focused on our ambitions and we were driven to go after what we want to. We can very quickly drop to a lower state of being, for example, we can drop to despair where we lose all purpose and all sense of meaning in life. And this can cause some of us to lower further that we’ll actually choose to look at a way of how we literally check out of the Snakes And Ladders Life permanently. You see, we move up and down these states all the time throughout our life. Some of us will be on the same state for many years. Others can move up and down different states through even the course of a day. Take for example, in a morning, you could have a business owner that might get confirmation of a brand new client that they’ve been looking to try and bring on board for quite a while and they’ve just been awarded a very large contract.
And as a result all of a sudden they’ve moved up to a higher state of being, a higher state of believing about themselves, about the business that they’re doing and what they’re doing in life. But then imagine in the afternoon that, that exact same business owner receives notice or a phone call or an email that they’ve just lost a major client. All of a sudden, the good thing that happened in the morning is overshadowed by this event and they drop to a lower state and a state of despair perhaps. You see we play the Snakes And Ladders Life game all the time. If you can imagine a heart rate monitor in the hospital where you see the line going across the screen and literally it goes up and down and it beeps occasionally, but then picture the different levels on the left vertical of the screen as being the different states that we all pass through while at the bottom horizontal of the screen is time.
The time can be measured in hours, in days, in weeks, in months or years. And as we go through life, that line, which is individual to each one of us moves up and down as we go through to different states. We go through life encountering these snakes and ladders and hence the reason we go up and down through these different states. And some snakes are small, others are large. Some ladders are small and some ladders are large. They’re the small wins and the big wins. But like before, if we were given the opportunity to stand back from the board game of life, we would see the board in its entirety. And as I said earlier on, we would actually be able to see where we finish. We would see all the snakes and we would see all the ladders.
But now imagine that there is another Snakes And Ladders board game to the right of yours and there’s one to the left of yours. In fact, if you were to look at it, there are similar board games surrounding all sides of your particular board game. And as you zoom out of your own board game and even further, there are more and more board games surrounding each of all the other players around you, each of all the other board games. So much so that if you allowed your mind’s eye to see it, you would see all the boards continued on all sides, far into the infinite, far beyond what you can actually see. And what you realise is that each person has their own Snakes And Ladders board game that they too are playing in life as well, their own Snakes And Ladders Life. And some of those people will move onto and through your own board just as much as you too will also move on to other people’s boards that are around you and back onto your own board game of life.
What you realise is that we’re all connected. Every single one of us, we’re all connected. That we all have this amazing and wonderful interplay with each other and as they go through life and they live and they play, they are all playing their own Snakes And Ladders Life game, just as much as you are as well. And that’s what we’re all working towards, moving towards, evolving towards, to this overarching one objective. Just imagine the amazement of the whole lot if you were to see it in its complete entirety because it is. You see life just like the Snakes And Ladders Life board game is supposed to be fun. Like the board game, it’s a game, it’s a fun game. It’s meant to be a fun game. It’s supposed to be a fun game. The more fun you have, the easier and the better it is to actually play at the Snakes And Ladders Life game.
So instead of chasing to get to reach the heights of our life and exiting at a 100, we should literally be having fun all along the way. And the more fun we have, then the more we actually obtain. That’s what the Snakes And Ladders Life is all about. So, consider where you are right now at the moment in your own Snakes And Ladders Life board game. Where does the next square lie for you? What does the next square hold for you? It’s about taking that next step. And just imagine what are the adventures that you’re going to have that are all ahead of you right now at the moment. And perhaps maybe it’s just time to roll that dice again and just see what that next square holds for you.
Check out The Executive Code Podcast for more on this topic.