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 was confident 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 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.
Just by beating me in checkers, she showed me that:
- My confidence borderlines arrogance.
- My anxiety distracts me and makes me lose focus.
- I’m quick to rush to judgment.
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. However, they say slow and steady win the race, which I should have considered during our checkers’ games.
The Bottom Line
Look, there will always be someone bigger, better, faster, or stronger than you, but please don’t take it personally. Being beaten at your own game is not a testament to how much you suck, but instead of how much learning and growing you have to do. Therein lies the difference. When you lose, 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 am I going wrong?”
- “How can I be better next time?”
I’ve always been told that to be a teacher, you have to be one hell of a student, to be a leader, you’ve got to learn how to follow, and apparently, to beat your Grandmother at checkers, you have to pay closer attention. 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.
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