I recently dusted off my family’s old Connect Four and enjoyed several games.  While I watched the emerging patterns, with my evolving strategy, I realized that this simple game offers a few good life lessons.

1. Some times it’s not your turn.

Some times we need to wait. Sure, at times it may be our time to move, to succeed, to shine; but there will be many, many moments when it’s someone else’s turn.  In Connect Four it’s a predictable every other move is ours.  In life, it’s far more dynamic, but none-the-less some times it’s not our turn; we need to wait

2. You can’t make progress if you don’t make a move.

It doesn’t matter how long you sit in front of a Connect Four board, your playing pieces won’t automatically drop into the game.  They require your movement. Likewise in life, if we want to make progress, we have to make a move. It’s not enough to want to lose weight, to change jobs, or to earn a degree.  If we don’t take the steps necessary to make those goals a reality, we won’t make progress.

3. Some times to keep making progress, you need to change directions.

As thought-out as our plans may be, sometimes in order to keep making progress, we need to go in a completely different direction.  In a game of Connect 4, we may need to move to the left instead of the right, or suddenly find ourselves working to complete a diagonal instead of a straight line.  The goal of connecting 4 pieces doesn’t change, but in order to continue making progress, we need to move in a new direction. The change might be permanent, or it may only be temporary; it’s not time to move in that direction right now. Life can be exactly the same.

4. Some times you need to slow down.

Why slow down? Because if you don’t, you may just miss the obvious things right in front of you. In a game of Connect 4, haste can cost the game. In life, it can cost opportunity, relationships, growth.  Some times you need to just slow down.

5. When things line up, it’s worth celebrating.

It can take persistence in the game, or resilience in life, but when the pieces line up, progress or success can be sweet.  Enjoy those moments in life.  They’re moments worth celebrating.