You are going to die – The Monopoly Story
Quite some time ago, psychologist James Dobson shared a story and analogy from the world of games.
James’ grandmother introduced him to the game Monopoly. While teaching him, she would always say at the end of every game, “one day you’ll learn to play the game.
While he recalls that she was a loving person, she was also the most ruthless Monopoly player he’s ever known. She understood that the name of the game is to acquire.
Like any beginner player, James would want to save the money he got from the bank. While his grandmother would buy everything, she landed on. She would accumulate everything and eventually become the master of the board. This happened every time they played.
Day in and day out, James would hold on to his money in anticipation of having to pay his grandmother rent. Eventually, she would take every last dollar. Then she would always say the same thing.
She’d look at James and say, “one day, you’ll learn to play the game.” James hated hearing that at the end of every game. Felt like she was taunting him.
That summer, James spent months playing with the neighbourhood children, and he learned to play the game. He came to understand that the only way to win is to make a total commitment to acquisition. James recalled becoming more ruthless than his grandmother and was willing to bend the rules if I had to, to win the game.
That fall, James challenged his grandmother to a game of Monopoly. He recalls how he slowly, and relentlessly beat her; “I took everything she had. I destroyed her financially and psychologically. I watched her give her last dollar and quit in utter defeat. It was the greatest moment of my life.”
Then his grandmother had one more thing to teach him. She said:
“Now it all goes back in the box.”
After pausing she continued, “all the houses and hotels, railroads and utility companies, all that property and all that wonderful money – now it all goes back in the box.”
James frustrated with his grandmother barked back, saying that it didn’t matter and that he won this time! What she said next has stuck with him for life.
“None of it was really yours. You got all heated up about it for a while, but it was around a long time before you sat down at the board, and it will be here after you’re gone. Players come, and players go. But it all goes back in the box.”
Through his story, James illustrates the importance of not being too attached to our material objects. How upon death, we all end up back in the box.
However, I’d like to draw out another lesson.
The relationships you developed with the people who played the game don’t go back in the box. The impact you left on those people lasts beyond your life. It’s not so much about winning the game, but about whom you played the game with.
As leaders, it’s all about relationships.
What if playing the game monopoly was the means by which we created relationships. Moreover, our acquisitions used to amplify the good we leave behind.
For what we do for ourselves is gone when we are gone. But we do for others is our legacy.