How one match of checkers turned into a very valuable life lesson
One rainy Sunday morning, I stopped by my Uncle’s house for some coffee, breakfast and a game of checkers with my Grandmother. Being the reigning checkers champ in my own home, I had no doubts whatsoever that I would walk away with the “W”.
Four games later, my Grandmother had four consecutive flawless victories.
No matter what strategies I tried I couldn’t beat her. I was making moves that I felt were clever, adept and unsurpassable yet and still my Grandmother was always 1 step ahead of me leaving me awestruck and dumbfounded. Throughout our games, she’d give me helpful tips: pay attention, look at the board before you make a move, and most importantly, concentrate. Seemed like easy enough advice to follow but, try as I might, I kept goofing up.
“You don’t concentrate,” my Grandmother told me, “there were times when you came close, and I was sure you had me beat, but you couldn’t see it because you weren’t paying attention”. Her feedback tripped me up because I was truly and genuinely oblivious to this fact. Of course I was paying attention! Well, wasn’t I?
Valuable Life Lessons
This experience made me realize that I have a lot of growing to do. You see winning streaks have a tendency to stroke the ego and, for a long time, I was undefeated in the game of checkers. Then, my Grandmother came along and revealed all the chinks in my armor.
She showed me that:
- I’m overly confident
- And quick to rush to judgement
These tips go beyond our checkers games. In life, one false move could make or break you. Taking your time and concentrating before executing your movements could be the difference between success and failure. I’m certainly guilty of moving too fast or not doing my best due to my anxiousness, but they say slow and steady win the race, something I should have taken into consideration during our checkers games.
The Bottom Line
Look, there’s always going to be someone bigger, better, faster or stronger than you, but please don’t take it personal. Being beaten at your own game is not a testament to how much you suck, but instead on how much learning and growing you have to do. Therein lies the difference. Don’t cower away or let a bruised ego get the best of you. Instead, use these moments as opportunities for education. Internalize them and ask yourself,
- Where are you going wrong?
- How can you be better next time?
I’ve always been told that, in order to be the teacher, you have to be one hell of a student, to be a leader you have got to learn how to follow, and to beat your Grandmother at checkers, apparently you have to pay closer attention.
There are a lot of people running around with unchecked egos and, I personally think, nothing is more dangerous or damaging to your mental growth. Once you give up on learning and growing as a person, you stunt your own potential.
Remember that there is always room for improvement and life moments like this are a reminder of that. Do you feel that you can grow and improve as a person? If you answer no, I’d recommend doing some self reflection. Pay closer attention to your errors and mistakes, notice any patterns?
Do you find yourself making the same mistakes over and over? Start there and see where it leads you.
As for me, my Grandmother and I have another match of checkers coming up. I’ll let you know how it goes.