Netflix has introduced The Queen’s Gambit, a show featuring Kentucky-native chess prodigy Beth Harmon. Harmon learns chess from a janitor at her orphanage who prepares her to take on the world’s best. The show has become something of a wonder since its October debut, as viewers rediscover the magnificence of chess and strategy once more.
We often hear the cliche, “the best leaders in any industry are playing chess while every other person is playing checkers”. So what does that mean precisely? How might we apply the fictional Harmon’s rise to our own lives and ensure we come up as the winner?
Here are 3 lessons you can learn from The Queen’s Gambit:
- Presentation is Significant
There is something about the costume design, the cinematography, the union of the pictures on-screen that makes you believe that this show knows precisely what it is and where it is going. It assembles enough trust in the viewer for them to want to jump into seven hours of chess.Particularly during these times, when most businesses can be led at home, wearing your sweats and working in your lounge chair is an enticing prospect. But when it comes to meeting with customers or accepting a Zoom call, make it a point to exude confidence. You don’t have to wear formal attire, necessarily, but try to ensure that the Star Wars banner is out of view, that the lighting is acceptable, and so forth. Be purposeful about what others see, and they’ll be inclined to accept that you’re deliberate about your work.
- “Success Isn’t Final, Failure Isn’t fatal”
That is a line from Winston Churchill that applies to our protagonist. Harmon is attracted to the chessboard the first time she sees Mr. Shaibel playing it. She says it resembles somewhat to the world, contained within the 64 squares, and asks Shaibel if he will teach her.He refuses and she leaves disappointed. But she doesn’t give up.She dazzles him with her tenacity and her unbelievable eye for detail. Shaibel yields hesitantly, and shows her the standards of the game. He never takes it easy on her, never allows her to win, and frequently refuses to point out her shortcomings but she perseveres. Harmon demonstrates that being told “no” or losing isn’t failure. At times, the circumstances are simply not right.When you start a business, you will be told “no” multiple times, but you need to keep in mind another Winston Churchill quote, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Learn from your failures, keep confidence in yourself and you may very well make believers of your doubters when the dust has settled.
- Have a Plan, But, Give Yourself Space to Improvise
The essential focus for Harmon’s chess mentors within the show, from Shaibel to American champion Benny Watts, is to analyze the game of past grand masters. The exercise helps her understand how they see the game and what they may be inclined to do in specific situations. Harmon’s game is most grounded when she can stream between styles, understanding the proper components while giving herself space to improvise.Similarly, it’s significant for entrepreneurs to be adaptable students of history. You are beginning a new business and it doesn’t mean each component will be new. Finding mentors who can walk you through the means can help get you off the ground. You shouldn’t attempt to simply take a blind leap of faith. Have a formalized plan and a rundown of objectives you need to accomplish. At the same time, it’s fundamental to your success that you realize when to improvise. The current climate is an amazing illustration of the need to improvise.
Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent through systems and rapid skill acquisition. Hanson has scaled several businesses in different industries to multiple 7 figures in the last two decades. He writes about building teams and systems that grow businesses at different levels of success, from solopreneurs to companies with multiple departments.Read more