chess improves the business mind

Garry Kasparov was the highest-rated chess player in the world for over twenty years and is widely considered the greatest player that ever lived. Upon retiring, he attempted to run in Russia’s presidential election against Vladimir Putin. Kasparov was extremely critical of the direction Russia was heading. In fact, many of his friends are in prison in Russia, and he has chosen to live abroad for fear of going to jail. A few years ago, Kasparov wrote a book, How Life Imitates Chess. This book is his effort to examine how the lessons from his chess career can be applied to the worlds of business and politics.

“It’s not enough to be talented,” Kasparov said. “It’s not enough to work hard and to study late into the night. You must also become intimately aware of the methods you use to reach your decisions.”

In the competitive world of business, working hard and being smart is no longer enough to experience great success in the current global economy. It is paramount to frequently, persistently reexamine the way we make decisions.

SWOT Analysis

Chess players must constantly evaluate the position on the board. They use a modified version of SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) to assess what moves should be made. This method is simple and to the point – identify your strengths and weaknesses with respect to opportunities and threats – objectively evaluate your analysis, and make the best decision. However, this isn’t easy. You can fall into a routine and fail to capitalize on the most promising opportunities. By continually reevaluating your process, you will put yourself in a position to achieve the most efficient and effective results.

1. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses by phases

Chess players divide the game into three stages: the opening, the middle game, and the endgame. Likewise, entrepreneurs can divide their startup process into phases. The needs and demands of the first year may be dramatically different than after the company has been around for five years. The moves that worked at first may no longer apply later in the game.

2. Always check and balance your opportunities and threats

Beginner chess players have a tendency to jump at the opportunity to win an extra pawn or dive into a trap without seeing the true outcome. In business, SWOT analysis isn’t only about seeing your opportunities and threats, but comparing them against each other. Chess is useful in training a business mind in this aspect, because a beginner entrepreneur may also jump into a potential opportunity without properly balancing the risks and threats.

Challenge Your Own Success

The secret to Kasparov’s dominance is simple. He was never content. Like a good entrepreneur, he kept pushing himself to become even better.

“When we win, we forget that there are a lot of people who are losing,” Kasparov said. “And those who are losing, they’re analyzing. They’re trying to figure out the reason for their loss, their mistakes. And if we do nothing, if we rest on our laurels, they’ll come back after us next time. I wasn’t at the top of chess for twenty years just because I was very good, instead, I was relentless in challenging my own success.”