Life is like a game of chess.
I’m not a chess player but over the years I have watched many of my friends play the game. But I can play checkers – not that it matters. Recently as I was watching a couple of friends play the thought occurred to me that chess is a lot like life – it’s uncertainty, it’s adventure, it’s exhilaration and yes, it’s a disappointment. Watching caused me to consider three life areas;
-Why do we make the moves we do?
Every day we all make decisions – some small ones, some insignificant ones and often some major ones. Do we take this move now or wait? Do we let go of this or hold on? Do we say yes or no to this opportunity? Do I take a new route or play it safe and take the one I always do? Do I share these thoughts or keep them to myself? Hundreds of not thousands of routine choices and decisions every day. Some easy and some more difficult but in the end, we have a choice – do it or don’t, make it or don’t, try it or don’t, say it or don’t.
Every choice, action, and decision we make has a consequence – some are potentially positive and some negative, some are short term and some may take a while to come to fruition and often a few can be either a disaster or amazing.
I’m not going to dig into the weeds in this article about the best decision approaches to take as I have written several articles dedicated to this topic - all I want to do with this one is to make sure that you grasp the concept of reality and relationship between what you want, what is and how the relationship between these two approaches ultimately determines the outcomes you end up with.
In chess, every move matters, and yes some can be more crucial than others depending on how your opponent (life) reacts or responds to your moves. We can’t control how our opponent chooses to pay their next move, all we can do is try and react as best we can given our options based on their (life’s – starting to see the relationship here) previous move.
If their (life’s) move puts us in a corner limiting our options, well, do we cave in and just let them (life) win and just quit or do we keep looking for a different or better strategy or approach to try and regain our control of the game and its potential ending?
Life will never stop sending us challenges, opportunities, options, dead ends, problems and chances and for us to - change, grow, improve or mature or to default back to what is comfortable regardless of whether it works or not or improves things or not. Life is relentless and no matter what choices we make or challenges we overcome, there are always others waiting just around the corner to keep us focused on improving vs. settling or quitting.
-In hindsight do we wish we had made different movers?
Regardless of your knowledge, experience, education, and wisdom, you can never know what is waiting in the wings that will cross your path tomorrow whether you are ready or not or how the decisions, choices, and options you have today will turn out tomorrow. I can move my chess piece, but I have no idea how you will respond, I just have to wait and see and them move accordingly.
Trying to outsmart life is stupid – what it wants us to learn to do is make the best moves possible given our resources, faith, courage, and wisdom. Plans are great if you could control life. Knowing is great if things never changed. The future is within your understanding if it always performed according to history and rules. Your life would be easy if you always made the right decisions – the problem is that the right decision or choice made today could in the future turn out to have been a wrong decision in the past and why? It’s called “life” folks.
-What do we learn regardless of whether we win or lose?
Learning is an interesting concept when you think about it.
You learn a new skill, hobby or process after spending time evaluating, practicing and repeating the tactics until they are mastered. A question – have you ever learned anything in your life in the past from (parents, schools, seminars, books or just plain experience) that for any reason is not still true or relevant today? If your answer is no – it’s for one of two reasons – 1) you have been living in a cabin in the mountains with no human contact of any kind for your entire life or 2) you are the smartest person who has ever lived in the history of humanity.
So, the rest of us are given new learning options every day of our lives and we can choose to embrace these opportunities or resist or reject them. But, one thing life has taught me over the years is that when I refuse to learn a lesson it wants to teach me and it believes I need to learn, it will keep coming back again and again from – a different person, different source or different situation. It will be relentless.
In the end, learning is not the end of anything it is simply the willingness and ability to let go of conventional wisdom, existing attitudes or opinions and skills or approaches that are just no longer working, effective or useful.
Think about it – do you still sell, market, read, cook, travel, garden, communicate exercise etc. today the way you did last week, last year, ten years ago or even fifty years ago? If you are – Checkmate!