I spent a better part of last night thinking about the analogy between chess and life. It turned out to be a very interesting exercise. As always, images get formed in my head before I can gather the words. So, here is how it appeared to me after some elementary thinking:
Now, it’s time for some words.
Here are seven powerful parallels that you can draw between a game of chess and life.
- Planning for the future: Think long term – that’s the key to survival in this game. Don’t aimlessly push your pawns without a plan. Before you decide to make a move, think a few steps ahead. Ask “what if …?” and try to anticipate the possible outcomes of your actions. Work out a backup plan and decide on an exit strategy. In life, this is the foundation of all financial planning exercises.
- A great lesson in adaptation: Your opponent doesn’t follow a given sequence of moves. Hence, whatever your plans may be, you should always be ready to adapt to the changing situation caused by the monkey wrenches that your opponent will throw at you. At times, when dealing with unconventional opponents, you may require a paradigm shift in your thinking. This requires an open mind and the willingness to adapt to changes.
- The value of sacrifices: Sometimes you need to give up some of your smaller assets to achieve bigger milestones later in the game. A great many chess games have been won with brilliant sacrifices at the right time. This essentially requires some forethought.
- The dangers of temptation: Your opponent (the dark side) will occasionally tempt you with small pawns and trivial positions on the board. These small offers will act as baits to draw you into vulnerable positions and to expose your weaknesses. Do not fall for these – they have the potential to ruin the game for you. Always be focused on your long term objectives and resist the distractions of these momentary temptations.
- The pitfalls of a passive approach: When you play the game passively, you play to just survive and stick around – to avoid a checkmate. You accept all the tricks that your opponent sends your way, and do not question anything. Your actions will be shaped by how your opponent (uncertainties, habits, etc) chooses to play the game. If you are lucky, you may somehow manage to hold your fort till the end but you will be miles away from a “victory”.
- The rewards of an active approach: In this case, you play the game with a positive frame of mind. You play to win. You play to conquer the dark side. You define the pace of the game and you will probably control the outcome. Victory will have it’s own sweet taste. By the way, don’t confuse an “active” approach with an “overconfident” approach – overconfidence is generally not guarded by caution, thought, or adaptation.
- The importance of consistency: Like chess, life is a game of mental tenacity. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are; if you don’t hang in there with consistent positive efforts, your opponent will eventually start eating into your defenses. If you do exceedingly dumb things, you will be eaten alive.
Finally, if you think life is like this:
You really need to wake up and stop dreaming!