Insights: Life is Like a Game of Chess

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ChessSetAuthor Allan Rufus said “Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life.”

The chess analogy is a familiar one. So many people come into my office feeling stuck not knowing what piece to move. And there are times when we need to just ‘be’ and not move. However, most of the time we need to keep moving, maybe sideways, maybe ahead and sometimes possibly backwards.

Even when moving is scary, it is through these movements that we learn about ourselves, and we gain knowledge and insight into how the world works, which eventually gives us wisdom and a different understanding of life.

I like watching the television series “Running Wild with Bear Grylls.” Bear takes different celebrities such as Zac Efron, Ben Stiller and Deion Sanders into the wild and challenges them beyond their comfort zones.

Most at some point stop, feel struck and do not believe they can keep going. All of us can relate to that feeling at some point in our lives, be it an end of a relationship, changing careers, health challenges to just name a few.

With some skillful encouragement, Bear is able to move each of these celebrities forward, assisting them through their fears. The majority of the celebrities truly believed they could not climb the mountain, or abseil down the rock face or jump over boulders. Each would stop, go in mentally and find strength at their core before they could move forward. This was not without tears, anger, or deep contemplation about their lives. But eventually each would continue forward, each finding something inside them to push through their fear to embrace their next step.

At the end of the challenge, each of the celebrities would be so excited, sometimes shouting for joy or collapsing to their knees in tears that they were able to accomplish a task that they thought was impossible for them.

But it took time to reflect and go inward, thinking through the consequences of what happened if they do not move in some direction. Each person learned something about themselves and felt better about their lives.

I can think of many experiences in my life where by moving forward, even though it was difficult, allowed me to have more insight into my life. I remember when I had to tell my daughter that her dad and I were going to divorce. I was so afraid of telling her, of disappointing her, of changing her life forever. It terrified me. Even paralyzed me. But just like the celebrities, I had to stop, take a deep breath, and find that piece inside of me that has the courage to take the next step.

And it is step by step that you are able to make the next move, and then the next and with each new move comes a new learning. What is the alternative? To not move, to stay stuck or even go backwards. I believe that is even tougher.

I love these quotes from Dr. Seuss:

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“Today you are YOU, that is TRUER than true. There is NO ONE alive who is YOUER than YOU.”

So whatever piece you decide to play, the king, the pawn or the castle, find that move that is going to teach you the best that is truly you.

Do not come from fear, but go out and learn a new insight, or some new lessons and “you will succeed 99 and ¾ percent guaranteed,” (Dr. Seuss).

This is life… But you have to make the moves.

Dr. Shelly Zavala can be reached at [email protected] or

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