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Secrets of Crossword Puzzle Champions: How to Always Win at Business

I’ve always loved crossword puzzles. But it wasn’t until many years into my foray with the hobby that I learned a sobering truth: I was doing them all wrong.

See, I began each puzzle the way I thought it was meant to be started. One-Across? Check. Five-Across? Check. And so on, in chronological order, from left to right, one by one. I usually did OK.

It wasn’t until I learned how some of the best crossword puzzle solvers in the world complete the puzzle that I finally changed up my method. And I realized, fairly soon into this method, that my newfound crossword strategy has wonderful applications to business, too.

Figure Out What You Do Best and Do It First

Here’s what I was missing when I first started out (and then for years afterward). Solving each clue in order isn’t helping anybody; you’re bound to miss some, spending useless time on an obscure historical reference or vague, one-word clue. Crossword champs abandon order. Instead, they scan.

When you reject the puzzle’s sense of order, and tackle the easiest clues first, you’re already operating with an advantage once you come back to the harder ones. The alternate strategy lets you attack the challenging clues with letters already filled in. A lot of the time, your brain will naturally fill in the gaps.

Do the same in business. Find out what you can do, personally, better than anyone else. Tackle those issues first. And if you can’t tackle them immediately, find out what’s stopping you and find a way to make it happen.

Fill in the Blanks
Once the easy tasks – the softball clues – are out of the way, you’ll find that you’ve nicely fit more complex tasks more firmly into place as well.

Your strategies for conquering these beasts must be alternative, because you’ve taken a different route to get there. Include outside resources, which can be human in nature or otherwise.

Build systems that allow you to concentrate solely on filling in the clues you’re most qualified to fill in. And then empower people to manage these systems, until each and every blank has been accounted for. If you do all that, your business can’t help but [three-letter word for victory.]

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About the author, David Shriner-Cahn

David is the podcast host and community builder behind Smashing the Plateau, an online platform offering resources, accountability, and camaraderie to high-performing professionals who are making the leap from the corporate career track to entrepreneurial business ownership.

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