It’s Your Move (Life)'s wooden chess pieces image’s wooden chess pieces image

“Life is like a ___.” How would you fill in the blank and complete the metaphor?

A carnival?  A box of chocolates (like Forrest Gump might say)?  A rodeo?  A race?  A soap opera?  A stage?  A competition?  A chess game, perhaps?

I’ve never been a huge chess player, but, after watching Charlie Rose interview Magnus Carlsen, the young and famous Norwegian chess grandmaster, I was reminded that aspects of the game of chess can be applied to aspects of living.

Carlsen has been called, “the Mozart of the game,” and was just named to the 2013 TIME 100 list as one of the “100 most influential people in the world.”  During the interview with Rose, Carlsen stated the following about the game of chess:

“I think it’s always better to be overly confident than pessimistic, because I’ve realized sometimes after games that, you know, I was actually way too confident…I was way too optimistic.  But, if you’re not optimistic, if you’re not looking for your chances, you’re going to miss opportunities.  And, you know, I think there are plenty of players in history who have been immensely talented, but they’re just too pessimistic.  They see too many dangers that are not there.”

What about you?  Do you think Carlsen’s advice regarding optimism can also be applied to the act of living?  Can you think of times in your business or personal life when you’ve been overly confident and experienced your desired outcome?  And can you think of times when pessimistic thoughts or fears have held you back from achieving more?

During the Rose interview, Carlsen also admitted that the most satisfying aspect of the game of chess for him is not winning.

He said, “To me, what’s more satisfying is the battle leading up to the point where you’re gaining an advantage…it’s more satisfying than the end, which is often a matter of wrapping up.”

Do you think Carlsen’s philosophy about where the most satisfaction can be found in a game of chess can be applied to life?  Do you find the most joy and satisfaction in your efforts and struggles to achieve goals rather than in your achievements, themselves?

Finally, which overall metaphor can be applied to your life right now?

Is your life like a game?  Go ahead.  Tell me.  It’s your move.

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