Challenge a Meeple

Learn from experience. You’ve faced tough challenges before – what can you use to help you in the here and now?

Start a conversation by looking at a moment when you used your strengths to good effect. Build that world and say what you see. Provoke insights that will give you creative ways to approach:

  • reconnecting with your strengths
  • feeling stuck in a quandary
  • recurring relationship issues
  • analysing your problem-solving style

#stuck #relationships #colleagues #lifegoals

How does it work?

Take the figures from a board game and any objects to hand to create a 3-D representation of a challenge that you’ve overcome in the past.

The discussion centres around what you found within yourself, that enabled you to succeed in that moment.


  • Meeples (the plastic figures used in board games)
  • a variety of other objects (pens, wallet, keys, coins) to use as obstacles


The game

This game works best when you allow yourself to be playful. Don’t let precise placement or the fine detail of a scenario hamper your flow or your imagination.

One of you – Tony, say – thinks about an obstacle that he’s overcome in the past and chooses an object to represent that challenge.

(Of course, he could choose an obstacle that he didn’t succeed in getting round, but it’s more useful in this context to think about our strengths rather than our limitations)

Tony chooses a plastic figure (which we’ll call a Meeple from now on) on one side of the obstacle, then the questions start…

  • who else was involved who helped Tony?

If there are sufficient Meeples available, Tony could make these all the same colour.

Place these Meeples around the obstacle according to whether they were the same side as Tony (e.g. a coworker who had his interests at heart) or the other side (for example, a line manager or friend who had already gone through this challenge).

If they were key to Tony’s success, they might be placed close to the obstacle – or further away, depending on the amount of help they gave.

  • who else was involved who did not help Tony?

Place more Meeples (of a different colour if possible) in a way that represents their relationship to the situation you’ve already set up. Did these people actively go out of their way to obstruct Tony, or were they merely unhelpful?

Again, place them near or far depending on their involvement.

  • who could you have asked for help, but didn’t?

Be imaginative – start to use other objects. Were there side issues that had to be overcome first? Or considerations that had to be met?

Did Tony have other responsilities that impacted on this scenario?

  • Stop. Look. Discuss.

You’re now looking at the challenge before it was solved.

(If you have enough Meeples and time, you can repeat the process with other challenges that Tony’s met, leaving them all set up on the table at the same time)

Questions, questions, questions

Tony can talk freely but everyone else should be careful to actively listen to what’s being said – and what’s not being said. Wait for the questions to appear, don’t force them.

Don’t focus on practical details, but think more about how Tony used his skills and strengths.

Focus on what Tony had within his control or his influence.

Try these questions to stimulate discussion:

  1. what’s the first thing that comes to mind as you look at the layout?
  2. what do you wish you’d known in advance?
  3. were there any specific moments where you wish you’d acted differently?
  4. what would you have done?
  5. tell me more about… (pick one of the characters or obstacles)
  6. if you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
  7. do these obstacles look more or less challenging in hindsight?
  8. if you could have given yourself one superpower to help solve this challenge, what would it be?
  9. what have you learned that will help next time you have a similar challenge?
  10. what’s the smallest action you can take now to prevent this situation ever arising again?

Other thoughts

  • what common threads are there in your approach to challenges??
  • what personal strengths have they underused? Over-used?
  • which of the obstacles turned out to be less fearsome than they first appeared?
  • what obstacles were not necessary to overcome, or were not actually real obstacles at all?

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