Playing Chess with Life
I have news for you. New Year’s resolutions don’t stick. Do you want to know why? Because a wish remains a wish if void of strategic thinking.
After obsessing over a 2020 NETFLIX released series called THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, I gained perspective on why some of the brightest minds in Business and beyond tackle life as if it were a game of chess.
“The Queen’s Gambit” tells the rise to fame of an orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, to become the world’s most extraordinary in the 1950s and 1960’s while struggling with emotional problems and drug and alcohol dependency.
Beyond the incredible slick visuals and stellar performances, it ultimately drew people into a world of strategic thinking. It awakened in its viewers a newfound passion for chess, which in so many ways, could be defined as the game of life.
Chess is a very challenging mental game but has at its core some very profound yet straightforward principles for navigating our daily existence and challenges.
As we begin 2022, post-pandemic, we are slowly getting back to the Business of living and interacting with other humans, even virtually.
Everybody has had to make small or more significant life pivots, to survive. Adjusting to a changing world, it has become more than ever essential to brush up on some strategy skills to master one’s life. The principles of chess are a great resource. These are 5 takeaways from this emotional and intoxicating series, as we witness the protagonist implementing in her journey to master her own emotions and her future.
I indeed related to the challenges of Beth, being myself a female in a man’s world, Hollywood. Art does imitate life, and I extracted some great wisdom nuggets that could help treaders level up our approach in the coming months. I narrowed it down to five principles.
1. Be the chess player, not the chess piece.
On the board of life, you can either be moving against the director of the pressure points and exterior situations, or you can be looking at life as a journey with a finite destination. In chess, this is called “THE END GAME.” We have the power to decide to make moves that will empower you and take you there, being vigilant of what the obstacles may intending to overcome them.
2. Chess is not about psychology. It is about good moves.
Ultimately, emotions are not something to be ashamed of, neither are our inner demons. Though how we play the game of life can be recognized by our physiology, our destiny is not ruled by it but by a series of good moves.
3. We learn as much about the games we lose as those that we do win.
Sometimes we have to fail many times to gain perspective on our weaknesses and innate natural resilience. Making an inventory of what works and needs fine-tuning allows us to confront ourselves calmly and analytically and prepare for the next move. Sometimes taking a step backward will help us take better steps forward in life.
4. All the pawns on your side of the board matter.
Ultimately you are the King or Queen of your existence. Just like in chess, life is not a solitary game. You cannot be Queen or King to none. You have others on the journey with you, and you give them the level of importance on your side of the board according to how much or how little they contribute to your life. If we do not have a group to shield us or protect us or go into battle with us during the difficult moments, it will be effortless for the Queen or the King to be taken down.
5. One single move can change everything.
The overall theme, in fact in The Queen’s Gambit, was that Beth tried every single move in her head to predict the outcome before she even played. Thinking ahead was her way to gain control in her mind and also to manage the chaos around her life. She did that analytically, and when it came down to playing her biggest competitor, it was one single move that moved her Queen to the other side of the game to checkmate.
I never understood chess. And I do not plan to learn it anytime soon. But I would not be surprised if there is a boom of the game given as a gift to children from their parents to help them with logical thinking, decision making, responsibility, and how to practice how to handle a loss, a win, a victory and to be strong.
Chess is not always about winning. Sometimes it’s simply about learning. And so is LIFE.