Today’s post has been inspired by a game called the Cortex Challenge, a Brain party game, given to us as a Christmas gift last year. A game that requires each player to compete in several different problem-solving tasks so that ultimately the winner is the first person to accumulate the four pieces needed to complete a brain.
But what intrigued me most about this card based game was the range and variety of problems and tasks that were a part of it. With each of the eight categories, listed below requiring the player to process and manipulate information in a different way. Either through touch, logical reasoning, pattern recognition or through the use of your short-term memory.
- Finding the correct pathway between two items via a maze.
- Being the first to identify a word written in its own colour.
- Completing a physical coordination task
- Identifying and then being the first to name the one item that is duplicated
- Recognising which item is repeated most frequently from a jumble of items
- Using logical reasoning to select the one shape that fits the ‘gap’
- Using touch to identify an object
- Memorising and then recalling all the objects shown on a card
As we played the game for the first time over Christmas, it was our daughter who suggested we abandon the goal of collecting brain pieces. She thought it would be more interesting to compete as a family and work our way through all the tasks, so that we could see which one of us consistently won within a category and whether there was some sort of pattern to this.
So, some 80 to 100 tasks later it emerged that my husband was the clear winner on the short-term memory tasks, I was best with physical coordination and our daughter came out on top with the colour identification. She also tied with my husband for the top place on the frequency and logical reasoning problems.
Clearly, this was just a bit of family fun with a newly acquired game, but it did get me thinking:
- How many of us are consistently addressing the problems we are uniquely, best placed to solve?
- Are we really working to our ‘natural’ strengths and talents?
- How many people are stuck in their careers trying to solve the wrong problems?
Of course, this was just one game, but I was struck by the way it provided our daughter with some real insight as to where her potential strengths and abilities might lie. Something that has not necessarily happened through school.
So, how do we find out, what we have the potential to excel at?
My sense is, that those of us, lucky enough to do so, might have uncovered it more by happy chance and good fortune than anything else. A chance remark, from a colleague, an observation or piece of feedback may have helped some people on their path to excellence. Others yet, might have uncovered their ‘spark’ by being thrown in at the deep end and found they were in their element.
Maybe you’ve experienced being in the right place at the right time, as your catalyst or spark.
Even playing a family game might do it.
Perhaps the key to a truly successful career is to discover and identify the problems you work best at, the ones you are consistently able to solve and enjoy solving.
My point is that I think that there is still too much left to chance. I don’t see enough opportunities within our schools and our work places to identify people’s potential for excellence. I suspect it is easier for people to find the problem solvers they need, than it is for the problem solvers to find their best problems.
Until next time
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