Think Like a Chess Player and Realize Success

If you position yourself to win today and sacrifice what you need to sacrifice, success will surely come.

There are many mentalities you can adopt and many approaches to life that will benefit you, but there is one king, one mentality that stands above the rest.

What is it?

It is the mentality of a chess player. There are many cross-overs between chess and life. By adopting the mindset of a chess player, one can move through life with confidence, making quality decisions with a resilience nothing can break.

Here’s why:

  • Avoiding the short-term advantages. On the chess board there are often short-term advantages that can lead into long-term disadvantages. A free piece might be a trap, it might be wiser to develop your pieces rather than to attack relentlessly, you might want to preserve your pawn chain rather than engage in trades, etc. Life is no different. The doughnut that looks so delicious might result in you breaking your diet, the nights you spend out might kill your ambition to work on personal projects, or the new captivating show on Netflix might keep you up way after your bedtime making you groggy and slow in the morning. By adopting the mentality of a chess player, you look at the whole picture rather than the immediate gratification. Over time, these small choices will accumulate into a large attack and nobody will be able to stop you then.
  • Playing the board instead of the score. In chess, oftentimes it is possible to be down pieces but still be winning. Such is in life as well. Somebody might have the cars and the money today, but tomorrow is a new day. If you position yourself to win today and sacrifice what you need to sacrifice, success will surely come.
  • Playing the next move. There is little use of analyzing past moves whether they were successful or unsuccessful. That can be saved for after the game. In the course of the game, all focus must be directed forward, at the moves that lie ahead.
  • Complete responsibility. A chess player assumes control over his game. All mistakes and blunders belong solely to him. By accepting this blame, he is forced to think through all possible options before making his move, forgoing careless mistakes. Life is the same way. If you start assuming responsibility for everything wrong in your life no matter the circumstances, you are forced to consider all possible outcomes and prepare for all contingencies. This builds the ultimate resilience because you’ll find that in the end if you want something done, you’re going to have to rely on yourself over and over. When people help, then, it is taken with gratitude because it was never expected at all.

Think like a chess player and you’ll see instant benefit.

Originally published on

  • Deepthi T R

    Brilliant piece of advice!

  • Thanks for another great article Alex! Your first point reminded me of one of my all-time favorite quotes: “Sacrifice short-term gratification for long-term success.” Too bad I don’t know from whom that is. Oh well 🙂

    • Not a bad quote to live by. Thanks for reading Nils!