Thursday, 25 October 2007

Learning Decision-Making from the Game of Life and the Game of Chess

"The chessboard is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the Universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature and the player on the other side is hidden from us."
Thomas Huxley

Life can be likened to a game of chess. In chess you have to read the board, look out for obvious signs of danger and even try to predict your opponent's next move. However, human beings can be unpredictable and your opponent can often make a move that takes you completely by surprise. One thing is certain. Whatever happens, you have to respond to your opponent's move and you keep doing so until - checkmate.

For some people decision-making is an agonisingly slow process. Yet, whatever decision you make, you will set in motion a series of changes or responses in your environment. Some will be predictable; others not. Some will be favourable; others not. Nonetheless, to make progress you will have to respond to these changes in your environment.

While you can influence the outcome of the game, unless you are playing against yourself, you cannot control how the game unfolds. This is what makes the game of chess and the game of life so fascinating. However, there is no forward motion until you make your move, until you make a decision and take ACTION.

One of the reasons why you are likely to hesitate in making a decision is because you want to make the 'right' decision. Lighten up, it's a game - remember.

"You sit at the board and suddenly your heart leaps. Your hand trembles to pick up the piece and move it. But what chess teaches you is that you must sit there calmly and think about whether it's really a good idea and whether there are other better ideas."
Stanley Kubrick

In life, you often immediately have the answer to what you should do. Your intuitive self is able to analyse situations far more quickly and accurately than you can do consciously. So by all means review your options but keep in mind that the game grinds to a halt while you stall. Meanwhile, other games are also being enacted and, while you procrastinate, opportunities that these games create evaporate. Timing is everything so you need to hone your decision-making skills.

As you develop awareness you will be able to predict with greater accuracy how your opponent will respond. You will be able to evaluate possible moves and their outcomes more quickly and you will be able to develop effective strategies for dealing with each scenario. However, you will only develop this awareness by raising your game.

"Suddenly it was obvious to me in my analysis I had missed what Fischer had found with the greatest of ease at the board."
Mikhail Botvinnik

You will need to study the strategies and tactics used by chess masters and you will need to play against more and more advanced opponents. In life, at times you will win; other times you will lose. Win or lose, you can always learn from the experience and so you can always make progress.

"I had a toothache during the first game. In the second game I had a headache. In the third game it was an attack of rheumatism. In the fourth game, I wasn't feeling well. And in the fifth game? Well, must one have to win every game?"
Siegbert Tarrasch

At times you will struggle. You will want to throw your hands up and strike the pieces from the board. Stop! It is at these times when you must be calm and focused for they mark the advent to some of your greatest lessons and greatest triumphs. So welcome your challenges.

"I love all positions. Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it. But totally won positions, I cannot stand them."
Hein Donner

In life, you will have mentors - those who have achieved what you are striving to achieve; and coaches - those who will help to elevate your level of thinking so that you not only develop your own success strategies but also your style of doing things. Modelling success has its place but you are also one of a kind with a unique contribution to make. Dare to be brazen. Play the game of life like no one else has. Dare to win.

You don't get a second chance at life. This is it. You don't get to reinstate the chess pieces back on the board and start over. The good news is that you can start today, right now to create your ideal life. No matter what your circumstances you were born free. You have the freedom to choose your life. Somehow, we forget this and we act as though we are in chains.

"Pawns are born free, yet they are everywhere in chains."
Rick Kennedy

It's a game remember - a grand illusion. You can break free of any self-imposed chains and live your best life now. All it takes is a decision. Play the game of life to win!

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