In my book, Wealth Virtues (tentative publishing date of July 4, 2010), I write quite a bit about how one thinks. So many people are “stuck” in a pattern of static though that does not allow them to see past the next paycheck, remain in debt, and cannot even begin to imagine how they will become wealthy. The underlying theme of the book is “Improve Your Self, Improve Your Wealth”. However, I also redefine ‘wealth’ to allow anyone to become wealthy. That definition is simply, “the ability to acquire more money than you spend, and to save more money than you owe.”
In Wealth Virtues, I write extensively on creativity and lateral thinking. “Lateral Thinking” is a term and concept developed by British physician, author, inventor, and consultant Edward de Bono. You use lateral thinking when you want to move from one understood idea to the creation of a new idea. It allows you to challenge the status quo; to challenge the way things “have always been done,” or the way they currently are. Thinking laterally allows us to see beyond what we believe to be the obvious answer or solution. Lateral thinking leads to innovation, which in turn, leads to realistic solutions. This is significant if you desire to change where you are now financially. At the same time, we also have to recognize that there are tried and true methods to wealth and a comfortable retirement, and I have outlined them in this book.
There are many ways to expand one’s ability to become more creative, and to engage in behaviors that allow us to adopt methods of thinking laterally. All of them center on us taking some type of action. In a section of my book called “Movement and the Brain”, I describe how research has shown that positive biological changes in the brain are brought about by physical activity. I am also a believer that daily doses of Omega-3 allow for greater blood flow to the brain that helps to stimulate creativity. However, directly engaging the brain in the application of lateral thinking in a structured environment has benefits as well.
This past Christmas, our children received a nice chess set. It was left untouched until our 9 year-old expressed an interest in learning. Not to be outdone, our seven year old chimed in as well so as not to be outdone by her big sister. I played the game with them carefully explaining the specific rules of how each piece can move, and the ultimate goal of capturing the king. In the past, their checkers experience only taught them how to acquire a number of the opponents checker pieces. I taught them that in chess, different pieces had different values. I also had them focus, not on the immediate loss of a piece, but rather, the long-term goal. I also made sure they new that they would both win and lose, and not to get discouraged by the later, but to learn from it. In and example to the nine year-old, I let her capture some of my important pieces such as the queen. In the end, I won with only two rooks and a pawn. Now I know that this was not particularly fair as she just started learning to play, but it allowed her to see that the person with the most pieces does not necessarily win.
Today the girls broke out the game on their own and played according to the rules they were taught. I asked both when they were through what they liked about it. The oldest said that she really liked using strategy, and the youngest said she had to think “way ahead”. “Not bad,” I thought after only learning chess a few days ago.
I could say something pithy like, “making money is like playing chess”, and then try to figure out a good explanation why. Instead, I encourage you ( and hope you encourage your children, ) to engage the mind with games and tools that allow thinking over a period of time, do not provide some immediate gratification, and forces the players to think about risk, and long-term goals. These are some of the patterns of thinking that you want to be able to use as you look to create wealth, even by my definition.
If you would like to read more on the benefits to children from playing chess, visit http://www.quadcitychess.com/benefits_of_chess.html.