Last updated on June 2nd, 2023 at 07:56 am
No one in the dormitory could believe their eyes at my success. What had just happened!?
This was one of the most surreal experiences I have ever had. I was so sentient of this experience that I discovered a complete paradigm shift on success – I am sure it was the same experience for my housemates that fateful Saturday in the boarding house of Presbyterian Boys Secondary School. It made such a huge impact that it sent me to my knees in a pool of sweet emotions – laughter, joy, excitement, exhilaration, pride, and tranquillity!
On the contrary, I don’t think my opponent shared these same emotions with me. He wore just one emotion on his face – SHOCK! No one had ever defeated Kafui in the game of chess. He was the reigning chess champion in school. Almost every chess player in Presbyterian Boys Secondary School dreaded meeting Kafui at a game of chess because their loss was guaranteed. To paint a clearer picture, Kafui was the Usain Bolt of chess, the Cristiano Ronaldo of chess, and the Michael Jordan of chess. But everything changed that day. You could almost hear a pin drop as it was clear I was about to announce CHECKMATE to Kafui, winning him at the chess game. What made this unbelievable was that I was barely a novice in the game of chess, about two months ago when I was taught the rules of the game and started competing in the casual Saturday chess sessions in my dormitory.
They were all surprised!
Everyone except me wondered how a beginner at chess beat the school’s reigning chess champion. My secret lay in the book I kept under my pillow. After I was taught the rules of the chess game, as though fate knew about my new desire to learn more about chess, I chanced on a book back home that a neighbour was about to dump in the bin because he had no use for it. The book was about chess tactics and strategies. I pleaded he allows me to keep the book since I was learning chess. I kept this book under my pillow and read a bit every evening before going to bed.
It explained various chess principles, strategies, and tactics. Every evening after returning from prep hours, I would spend about twenty minutes reading this book, learning tactics, and learning lessons from games of other international chess grandmasters, before going to bed. I did this every evening. Sometimes I would gaze up from my top bed playing out some of the techniques and tactics I learned from the book on the ceiling. This was not just a book about the rules and basics of chess, but about very important techniques and tactics such as pins, forks, deflections, openings, middle game, and end game.
It was my turn now
Then at every opportunity that presented itself at the casual Saturday chess sessions, I would apply what I had learned from the book. Gradually, my previous opponents who crushed me in the game of chess, couldn’t do so anymore. They lost at every game with me. At a point, some refused to play with me because I would either give them a tough time or simply crush them within minutes.
This day, Kafui was still seated behind the chess board, watching opponent after opponent losing to him. It was my turn, his twelfth opponent in that session. I played black, he played white. Move after move, tensions increased. It became obvious Kafui was having a tough time in the middle game. My moves confused him as they did to the spectators. It was my turn now. The tension was finally released when after a pensive thought, just to be sure I was right, announced the word CHECKMATE to Kafui, who couldn’t look me in the eye. My mates erupted into a celebration frenzy behind me, leaving Kafui baffled.
That day was another Discovery in Peter’s Box, a paradigm shift on success.
Paradigms of Success
Here are the three paradigms on success:
1. Success is not a destination but a season.
The victory over Kafui was only ‘one’ of the many victories. The very first victory was chalked to the day I decided to learn how to play chess. Many people love the idea of being successful but not being successful. You can’t be a driver of a car just in your mind – you have to get behind the steering wheel. Success is a season because perfection does not exist and there is always room for improvement. Therefore, be happy with the progress you make. Don’t compare your success to the success of another person – that person might be in a different season. Focus on your season and giving out your best.
2. Be willing to fail.
During the early days of learning chess, every opponent I met beat me – of course; I was a novice, trying to consolidate all the rules and successfully play the game without mistakes. I enjoyed losing my games because it meant there was something I did wrong I had to learn from. Losing now became a delight, in every loss, there was something to discover to make me better at the game. Rather than looking at the gloomy side of losing/failing at something, look at all the lessons you can learn to make you better. Failure is also a season and how you convert that failure into success is explained in the last paradigm.
3. To be successful don’t be the best, be better than the best.
What did Kafui the loved chess champion do wrong? What mistake did he make on the chess board that fateful Saturday? Honestly, I don’t think Kafui necessarily did ‘something’ wrong. It was not what he did but what he didn’t do that caused his downfall. Kafui was stuck in his season of success, winning games against the same opponents below his level. There was no one in the same season of success as Kafui to challenge him to a greater season of success.
Contrast that with my rising through the ranks. As a beginner, I played with intermediate players, challenging myself to move to their season of success until I found myself in the same season as Kafui. No! It wasn’t a miracle to be at par with Kafui and then demolish him in the game of chess.
I had to study extra (remember the book under my bed?). Everyone knew the basics, the comfortable, the usual. I had to go beyond the basics, the comfortable, and the usual to be better than the best!
Checkmate! Be one step ahead!
What’s next in Peter’s Box? ¡Hasta luego amigos!