Charles Zimmerling was a genius; the first pinning tool.

birthday party game

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This weekend we attended a child’s birthday party and one of the games was pin the tail on the donkey. The object of the game is to get as close to the correct location while being blindfolded and dizzy. I’ve never really gotten the game’s appeal until I realized that it is a genius life lesson.

Imagine trying to accomplish anything without being able to see, or having a clear direction of where you are headed. Then factor in the friends standing around you calling out “helpful” directions. What a perfect image of what life is like without goals, a purpose, or a steady support system; a ride that takes you nowhere.

roller coaster ride

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Hopefully Charles Zimmerling (inventor of Pin the Tail on the Donkey) made millions from this genius idea that without vision or direction you create chaos.

I think what Mr. Zimmerling was trying to teach us was in order to combat this dizzy-directionless wandering you need to have a clear vision of what your purpose is in life. What are your goals? What are you working towards? And what steps are you taking to get there?

Take a few minutes and write down a vision for where you would like to be headed. Here are a few articles that might help guide you in producing a personal vision statement…

This post from Thousand Insights is for business vision statements but the principles are the same.

Specimen templates gives some personal vision statement examples here.

Have you already created a personal vision statement? And isn’t it great we can learn so much from childhood games.


2 thoughts on “Charles Zimmerling was a genius; the first pinning tool.

  1. George Schnitzer Jr.

    Nice sentiment but Charles Zimmerling did not invent Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The game had been played throughout Wisconsin for more than a year before Charles ever heard of it. During a visit from Philadelphia to visit his brother in Milwaukee he became equally enamored but also saw the business opportunity. Upon his return to Philly, in 1886 he patented his own version of the game which gained popularity throughout his hometown, which then spread to New York and Washington DC. It was originally played by adults, and was a favorite among Washington elite even played by Presidents and Congressmen. By 1890 other versions of print-on’s came out (Cinderella, Helen’s Naughty Baby, The Chinaman, The Fisherman, The Dude, GOP Elephant, and more Our Donkey Parties), as well as another game in 1889 by Zimmerling called The Monkey Donation Party, which gained little popularity. Zimmerling licensed his game to game distributors S&R Co. (later Selchow & Righter Publishing) which introduced several versions calling their game Our Donkey Party and The Tailless Donkey, which took the game worldwide. Selchow & Righter Publishing began producing their own games and children books becoming one of the largest game and book publishers in the country.


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