Emotional Intelligence · Reality

Losing At Chess.


P 310 Losing at chessI’m good at losing, it’s how I go about life really. Chess isn’t the only one thing I’m happy to lose at, arguments are another. To those of you with a more driven personality all this will sound very strange indeed. Until you realize what it means to lose an argument in terms of real psychology, that is to say, the reality of the situation rather than a quote from some book.


Because with my ex, there was no winning arguments for me. We argued until he won and then it stopped. There was one occasion I tried a little experiment, as he was roaring at me I agreed with him. He pretty well stopped dead with a puzzled expression on his face. By this time I’d worked out that there was no winning, so I backed down. Pretty well from then onwards there were no arguments, but then again it was the start of a long process of divorce.

So how is it that losing is so important to me? Well it’s more that humans don’t need to win, we’re not genetically programmed to win – despite what everyone says. If we’re programmed to do anything, it’s to enjoy ourselves – what’s more, that’s totally different from winning! That doesn’t mean I don’t try to win, but enjoying a good game is way more important than its outcome. After all, a chess game can go on all evening – yet you only enjoy it after you’ve won? I doubt that even the most competitive men only enjoy the winning; my bet is that if their opponent makes a clever move, they’ll delight in that moment of genius along with the rest of us.

The other reason, and way more importantly is that enjoying the game takes it out of the power struggles that characterized my marriage. It was me or him, either he won or I lost. There was little in the way of a relationship with this sort of thing going on – and by this I mean simply enjoying each other’s company. Because that’s the real value in a relationship after all, just being together.

I learned a lot from my ex; one of which was the value of allowing the other person to win – or at least have the upper hand. Because if they’re always wanting to win, that means the other party has to lose – that means they’re caught in that nexus of polarity, a battle. Their need to win actually becomes a barrier to being with the other person, in other words, forming a relationship. More importantly it’s usually a negative spiral – one that constricts you. After all, winning means you don’t have to relate, all you have to do is boss ’em about. Whether they like it or not. Getting more of this compounds this weakness – makes the constriction the tighter. Yet in our society, it deemed success! Where people of this kind are lauded in the newspapers for the very things they’re getting wrong!

The Weakness Of Isolation.

There are no few CEOs who have trodden this path to isolation – have you ever wondered why they want remote offices high above the rest of us? Why it is that they prefer first class travel to the crush of tourist? To me the joy of travelling is that meet all sorts of people you’d never otherwise meet. I genuinely like meeting new people, the downside is when I meet a bureaucrat or a boss. That’s when my coffee loses its flavour.

Because chess in this respect is a metaphor for a relationship. And all games are relationships. After all, a relationship can only exist between two people just as a game does. And if someone’s trying to better the other there’s only one reason for this: they’re the weaker party.


The Key To Engagement – And Why It’s So Hard!

Allowing other people to take the upper hand means you possess the self-confidence to allow them to. Should they share this, the relationship will be genuine, and there will be no upper hands, there’ll be a balance. As importantly, this kind of – now how can I express this adequately? – allowance? is that the right word? To allow the other person to have their way? If you’ve understood the above analysis, you’ll see that allowing the other person to win means engaging is easy.

That’s why it’s best to lose at chess. They’ll start by winning and then realize who’s really in charge. By then they may have realized that playing chess is more than just winning.


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