I f you are a chess fan, November held plenty of drama as the World Chess Championship played out in New York. Magnus Carlsen, the 25-year-old Norwegian defended his title against his Russian challenger, Sergey Karjakin.

I can’t help but think within this ancient game are some valuable life lessons.

  1. Hindsight is 20/20. Following every game, chess mavens offered their analyses of what each player could have done better, and the “blunders” that cost a win. But a blunder is not a blunder unless your opponent capitalizes on it. Sometimes, the line dividing genius from idiot can be razor thin.
  2. Preparation is everything. Chess grandmasters have studied many thousands of games involving other grandmasters. They seldom see a positioning of the pieces that is unlike positions they have seen before. They know the likely consequence of any move they make. If we do our homework, we acquire similar background knowledge. We recognize patterns and have pre-planned responses.
  3. It’s not over ’til it’s over. After the match opened with 7 straight draws, the challenger won the 8th game and took the lead. Had the match continued with 4 more draws, the world would have had a new champion. After 1 draw, Carlsen won a game to even the match. Eventually, the championship went into a 4-game tiebreaker. After 2 draws, Carlsen won the next 2 games and the title.
  4. All you’ve got is the next move. Once a move is made, it’s history. You can’t go back. You can’t look into the mind of the opponent and know what that person is thinking and know for sure what the future will hold. When it’s your turn to move, that move is all you’ve got. If it’s well-played, that’s enough.


It’s Your Move

A game of chess can easily have 50 or more moves for each player. This match stretched 16 games, including the 4-game tiebreaker.

Lots of moves. Lots of chances for error.

For any one player at any one time, all that’s there is the next move. Well played, it set up future success.

Isn’t life like that? Business guru Tom Peters said, “Excellence is the next five minutes.”
Tweet: Excellence is the next 5 minutes. -Tom Peters

Excellence is the next five minutes. -Tom Peters.”

It’s your move. It’s the next step in designing the life you want. Make today count!