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How Playing Games Can Help You Become a Better Entrepreneur

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Some of the 21st century’s most successful entrepreneurs are famed gamers. Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and Larry Page are all prominent gamers as well as millennials with successful careers. A recent study in the U.K. suggested that strategic video games such as StarCraft can expand a player’s “brain flexibility.” And while there is not yet any scientific evidence that suggests playing games makes an individual smarter instantly, there is an argument that problem-solving and strategy is excellent for our cognitive abilities in the complex world of business.

A Brilliant Escape from 24/7 Entrepreneurship

Being a business owner can be all-consuming. It’s hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to working. However, any successful entrepreneur will tell you that the ability to switch off and enjoy your life outside of work is vital to avoid burn out. Gaming provides a chance to escape from the mental pressure of looking after your business and staff. Think of it as part of your work-life balance: a chance to have some “me time” to recharge the batteries while keeping your mind sharp.

Neuroscientist Lauren Sergio believes that gaming does help to boost brain power and can even prevent the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in the future. Sergio revealed that regular gamers “mainly use their frontal cortex” while non-gamers “predominantly use an area called the parietal cortex” that specializes in “special visual function.”

A Flexible Approach to Risk and Reward

In the worlds of poker and business, you are required to assess potential gains and losses and decide when to take calculated risks, too. The best players in poker and entrepreneurship are those who only take risks when the odds are stacked in their favor. Even further, the world of entrepreneurship requires individuals to be flexible and open to different approaches. That flexibility is equally important in poker.

Most people learn to play Texas Hold‘em as it’s the most popular game version. But learning how to play Omaha, the most popular poker variant, can enhance your card-playing skill set and open your brain up to new possibilities. Namely, Omaha requires slightly different tactics to engineer a winning hand. For example, Omaha players get dealt four hole cards rather than two in Hold ‘em. Given that players have twice the number of cards for playing, this creates an all-action game with a much broader range of hands in play.

Gain a Thirst for Short-Term Wins

For any start-up business to succeed long-term, it must experience short-term success in the first place. Many video, card and board games are designed with quick wins in mind to keep players engaged and instill a “habit of success” that fosters long-term improvement. That’s the view of Jon Harrison, an organizational development practitioner and author of “Mastering the Game.” Harrison insists gaming teaches budding entrepreneurs to meet near-term goals that in turn help them move closer to longer-term business objectives.

There’s no doubt that all work and no play make us dull individuals. But gaming allows for low-risk cognitive experimentation that can boost morale, provide fresh perspectives and enhance our mental skillsets to overcome the next business hurdle.

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