It’s often said that a good chess player is someone that can think 5 moves ahead. The difficulty in doing that though, is you can’t really predict what the other player will do so there’s a margin of error that will constantly need to be re-calculated.
In a lot of ways, we make plans in life assuming we know the direction it’ll go. Innovation in companies is often this way, and resembles a dissertation that takes too long and ends up having to be redone because someone beat them to the punch on what they were working on. Yes we have to take gambles and take risks, but sometimes it’s the analysis paralysis that keeps us from getting to our goals.
Much like in chess, if you have the most confidence in life, you can often become your own success regardless of how good you really are. People that are successful at a sport aren’t necessary the most naturally talented at it, they just showed up every day and had the grit and determination to succeed. The late Brian Klemmer talks about it by saying that your deepest commitment will often produce several ways in which to achieve something. There are often 100’s of ways to get to where you want to go, but where people lack is the commitment to seek the results they really want.
If you really want to win in chess, practice is important, but having the confidence and swagger of someone that knows what they are doing can go a lot further than 100’s of games being memorized. If the other player becomes intimidated, or backs down from an overly aggressive pawn – the game goes from being offensive to being defensive, and your upper hand can make all the difference towards that person making moves a rookie would shake their head at. It’s often said that the reason Big Blue beat Garry Kasparov in 1996 was because, once Garry’s confidence began to wain – he made mistakes a stable and solid player of his caliber wouldn’t have made, but the computer had the power to recover better because it had no emotion in it’s way. In short – when you stumble, take a deep breath and let it go in order to recover.
The funny thing about losing to chess is, that even though the other player isn’t predictable – they can only move one move at a time before you jump back in to make another move. This back and forth means you can’t lose control of your game unless you chose to lose control of your game – no one move determines the outcome of a single game, but rather a series of steps. The funny thing is, you can always chose to resign the match, even before it’s over.
If there’s things in your life you feel are out of control, take a step back and realize you are in control. No one move in life can determine the outcome of the entire rest of your life, and at any point you can step back and change the game. If things are really out of control, resign from whatever it is you are doing and start another game. We are all empowered with some level of control, because at no point can anyone force us to ultimately do something day in and day out – they can convince us to do something, they can strong arm us, but it’s us at the end of the day that decides where we move the pieces on the board for most scenarios in life.
When we decide that we have control over all the white or black pieces on the board, and that every move can be recovered by the next choice we make – no game in life is hopeless. The only way you have no chance of winning is by standing around watching the chess match, instead of playing it.
The opposing player never causes you to lose, and you aren’t without an opportunity to redeem and restore whatever situation you’re in. Allow the answers to come to you by taking those deep breaths, and the right combination of moves will appear in surprising ways.