I started playing chess last summer. Since then, I’ve played almost every day.
One of the main reasons I got into it was because one of my close friends played as well. He would destroy me, and we’re both quite competitive so that was all the drive I needed to want to improve. I had a worthy rival: Someone just ahead of me to push and challenge my skills.
I read books, got a chess tutor for a month, and have watched mountains of chess content on YouTube.
After about a year of playing consistently, I finally feel like I’m at the point where I can play my friend and confidently beat him most of the time. (Sorry, Andrew!)
This makes me happy for a number of reasons:
1) Feeling our skills improve is one of the best experiences in the world.
Seeing our muscles get bigger, or timing sharpen, our understanding flow better…There is a motivating excitement that comes with any sort of visible growth.
What we’re trying to improve becomes more fun since we can simply do more things.
2) Competition is fun.
For many of us, that competitive drive will never leave. But as we get older, the hope is that we channel it in more productive ways.
Winning in chess is obviously more fun than losing (especially against a good friend), but what’s more fun is competing against my past self.
Seeing my ELO increase is jubilating. (An ELO is the number that rates a player’s skill level.)
It took me a while to break 1300. Now I’m trying to break 1400. And so on.
3) The Growth Mindset is real.
The Fixed Mindset is the idea that every skill falls into having natural ability or not. Some people can and some people can’t.
People with a Fixed Mindset say things like:
• “I’m just not a musical person.”
• “I suck at this.”
• “This just isn’t something I can do.”
Of course, we all have certain strengths and weak spots. But the Growth Mindset states that if we just put enough time and energy into something, we can improve at it.
Example: I’ve said my whole life that I’m not a business guy. Now, after running a coaching business for about a year, I’m training and coaching others on how to run their businesses. Practice, bitches.
There have been plenty of times where I wanted to stop playing chess because I felt like I had plateaued. But I just kept playing and practicing.
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite comics…