© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

Chinese Checkers

Work is busy. And it’s not just one project, it’s dozens. All going on at the same time, all with weekly progress calls, all at different degrees of completion. Just when one project wraps up, it’s time to get started on a new one. Sometimes it’s a challenge keeping it all straight.

I use the analogy that working on so many projects at one time is a bit like playing Chinese Checkers. The goal is to move all of your marbles across the board and into your zone at the opposite side. Once the game begins, the marbles that you’ve moved the furthest and have invested in the most become the priority to move to safety. The savviest players move multiple marbles in a wave, not investing too much in any one marble. And as a kid I got pretty good at Chinese Checkers. You see, I had the opportunity to play. A lot.

When I was nine, my grandmother gave me Chinese Checkers for Christmas. It was a cool game of strategy, marbles were neat and my family played it quite a bit that year. I really liked it. Grandma must have liked the game too, because she gave it to me again for the next two Christmases in a row.

Sitting on her green carpet on that eve of my eleventh Christmas I smiled and hugged her. It was the thought that counted, but I was a little disappointed as I thought for certain there was no way she’d give it to me again. But Grandma was a model of consistent predictability. Looking back, I think fondly of that Christmas, of that game and especially of my Grandma, who through a steady diet of holiday marbles taught me valuable lessons about life.

Chinese Checkers Lesson One: The best strategies are built around a core of adaptability.

Chinese Checkers Lesson Two: Starting back at go, while a setback, is also a fresh start and a clearer vision of the soundest path.

Chinese Checkers┬áLesson Three: When things get overwhelming, when there are distractions all around, when you’re not sure what do to next… pause, take a deep breath, survey the playing field and simply move forward, one tiny marble at a time.


  1. Chris
    Posted September 1, 2011 at 3:13 pm | #

    Aaron, This is not the Chinese Checker board that we used to play on. Ours was shaped more like a star of David, was metal and had indentations for the marbles. On the other hand, I never got one on three consequitive Christmases either!

  2. Aaron Atkinson
    Posted September 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm | #

    You’re bang on in your description of the real thing. The board pictured isn’t for Chinese Checkers, it’s for regular checkers. For the life of me I couldn’t find an authentic board, so I went with the next best thing.

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