How Life Imitates Chess - Tucson Personal Training Blog

Personal Training in Tucson - The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, Llc

By: Jerry Trubman, Owner and Founder

Like many Russians, when I was a young boy my grandfather taught me to play chess. To say he was ‘really good’ would be an understatement. He was an absolutely brilliant player. Despite any character flaws I’ve heard family members accuse him of, when he sat down in front of a chess board, he was a super genius.

This year marks ten years since he has passed. In hindsight, I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked to, but whenever I did play chess with him, I got to see the complex inner-workings of the mind of a brilliant strategist.

And by ‘see’ I mean he would talk to me during the entire game; giving me tips and strategies on how to beat him (even though it never happened). I remember being absolutely mesmerized by how far into the game he was able to see after just the first few moves…

“I wouldn’t do that if I was you, Jerry… because see if you do that, then I will just do this and this… then you’re dead!”

Although I never got really nerdy for the game, I did become a big fan of Garry Kasparov. If you don’t recognize the name, he was the Russian chess grandmaster that played against a super computer built by IBM called “Deep Blue.” The series of games made headlines around the world. Although he did end up losing to the machine, he was still the highest rated chess player in the world up until he retired in 2005.

After his incredible career, he devoted his time to politics and writing. He wrote numerous books, including one called, “How Life Imitates Chess.” (Great read by-the-way. Click Here to buy it on Amazon) This book really got me thinking about similar observations I’ve seen in my own life.

I’ve also been thinking about grandpa a lot lately… recalling the things that were ingrained into me as a child over those games we played together. Things that have helped me along my entrepreneurial journey. I thought I’d take a moment to share some of those with you today…

Each piece is important in its own way – I was having a conversation recently with a small business owner friend of mine who was complaining about how none of his employees can do anything right, so he ends up doing most things himself. I felt bad for him and his situation, but also silently thought to myself, “Man… I’m sure lucky to have found the people who work in my gym. I’d be so screwed if I had to do it all myself.”

The truth is that all the pieces on the board are important, and sometimes pawns play the most important roles. They are the first line of defense and are the great protectors of the board. They also have strength in numbers.

Other pieces are also valuable, but can only move in certain directions and do certain things. Individually, they can’t accomplish the goal… but together they can.

“None of us are as good as all of us.”

Ray Kroc

The player must be able to understand how every piece on the board is to be optimally utilized, and know how to leverage the skills of each of those pieces to be successful.

The game is won by the person who can see the farthest into the future – I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’ve had several failed business attempts in my past. It almost seems like a rite-of-passage for all successful people to experience not only the thrill of victory, but the agony of defeat once or twice (or more) before they understand how to create the blueprint that doesn’t fail.

In all of my past professional failures, I’m able to look back and say, honestly, that my vision was too short-sighted. I put short-term gains in front of long-term strategies. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Speaking of which…

A big-picture strategy trumps a short-term attack – I used to get really frustrated playing chess with friends who were always “going for the throat” from the very beginning of the game. The problem, however, was that none of them were great chess players. Why? When you’re always going for the kill, you start to get tunnel vision and your defenses become compromised. I know my competitors are always dreaming up new ways to attract new business, and those who compete against my team in powerlifting are constantly working to get stronger. If we’re not always looking to up our game, we get crushed by someone who is.

Yes, we should be paying attention to what’s happening directly in front of us, but we also need to keep a watchful eye on what’s happening 20 moves ahead. Do you want a PR this week, or do you want to continue to hit PRs for many years and still be lifting 20-30 years from now? This is what keeps me from going too aggressive with my practices. I’ll always opt for a strategy that I believe will have the best long-term outcome… even if it means smaller returns on investment today.

You can’t let a nasty set-back ruin your whole game – I think this one more-or-less speaks for itself. Success is not final. However, failure is not fatal.

Finding a friend who can expose your weaknesses, and help you work on them, is worth their weight in gold – You’ll never become a better chess player if you’re always playing people who are not as good as you. I have one basic requirement in a gym training partner: You must be better/stronger than me in a number of things. I love that my gym has tons of guys stronger than me; I learn things from them every time I coach them.

In the business world, I’m always looking to meet people who are ahead of where I am. These are the guys and gals that help me draw pirate maps to the next level.

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most amount of time with. Choose wisely.

We can’t all be kings – It’s true. There can only be one king. If you’re one of those people like me who spent most of his young adult life trying to claw his way to the top, I would challenge you to find other ways to become fulfilled.

As I’ve gotten older I’m starting to realize that my contribution to society, and the legacy I’m trying to leave, doesn’t have to be made from atop the ivory tower. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: If you’re a current/former student and/or have read this blog for a while and something I’ve said or done has enriched your life in some way, the goal was achieved.

So, am I the only chess nerd here? If you are a fan of the game and have seen other parallels in life, I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line in the comments section below.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife Marie and dog Sadie. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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