Playing a losing chess game

When I play chess, as soon as I hit some internal threshold where I feel like I’m sure to lose the game, I want to (and usually do) quit.

Now how does that translate to the rest of my life I wonder?

Today I won a game even though I was a bishop, a knight, and a pawn down within the first 20 moves. Granted if I was playing against a Grand Master, It’d probably have been a waste of both our times for me to continue playing.

Or maybe the Grand Master wouldn’t think so, and that’s part of being a Grand Master.

This time though, I swallowed hard and didn’t quit. Mainly because my opponent doesn’t quit either no matter how down he is. Eventually I was able to make solid moves until my opponent made mistakes while I kept increasing my advantages.

Before long I was only  down one pawn, but that didn’t matter because I had a discovered check that would allow me to capture his queen.

The game was over, I had won.

When re-analyzing the game, we found that I was allowed to continue forking or skewering his queen on different variations of those last few moves. It was because he made the fatal mistake of moving the king out of his protected pawn structure.

So far in my life I’ve worked to overcome my fear of pursuing goals that might seem unattainable. But I keep becoming hindered because I quit the first time things begin turning sour, when the curve of progress stops going up.

If I had to venture a guess as to the nature of success, I bet that it includes several dips on the road, no matter the pursuit. And yah, I’ve learned to start taking the first step and beginning the journey. But I haven’t been so good at finishing it.

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Job’s jobs

How was someone able to develop an entire industry before the age of 25, and then do it again a decade later?
If you go back and watch all the videos of him talking and explaining, you can see a common underlying theme that he lives by.

He believed that his life should end with him having changed the world in some way. Right now if you look back on Macworld 1998, it begins with a fairly famous advertisement for Apple, Think Different. It was erie for me to watch this.. because I half expected to see a video of Steve Jobs in his own commercial.
And why not, go watch that commercial, you’ll see that he should fit right in there.

But there are lots of people who might have the same convictions, that they want to change the world in some way. So why was he so successful?
Again you can look back on his old videos, especially some of the videos that were shot when he was CEO of NeXT, to find out a hint of why.
You’ll notice that he has visions for a new future that he and his company and his team will create. But you see this vision through him doing mundane things like demonstrating Mach OS’s ability to play 12 quicktime videos simultaneously.

Steve Jobs eats, breathes, and lives his vision. Every single thought and word out of his mouth aligns towards the possible outcome of this vision.
The secret to Steve Jobs is that for him, a vision wasn’t just something he imagines every once in a while. The vision is an inevitable future that he is living for right at that moment.

American Audacity

One distinguishing theme in a lot of Americans is their overbearing sense of self righteousness. This is annoying in a few Americans who’s ability to think clearly and understand rational logic is limited by a false sense of their own value. But in others, it’s a refreshing feeling.

It’s refreshing because, where other cultures somehow create people who shun responsibility and try to offload it to the next person, Americans like to tackle responsibility when they probably have no right to do so in the current job that they’re in. One would intuitively think that this is a bad thing, no manager would want their subordinates to start encroaching on their territory. But counterintuitively this doesn’t actually occur because there is always enough responsibility if one chooses to take it on. There’s always improvements needed to be made, there is always things that aren’t being done that should be, there is always room for growth. That is the opportunity God has provided us by making sure that things are never perfect.

In a country, like Bangladesh, when you want to get something done, you have to prepare yourself to climb a ladder of lackeys until there is one lackey with the right stamp to approve your action, granted that it is an action that is right and should be approved. Or.. you have enough money to bribe them if the action isn’t right. The number of lackeys you have to climb is directly proportional to the amount of individual conceit that is cultured by the culture. In America, usually you have to go through two levels, maybe three if it’s a really complex issue. More if you are one of those few who’s ability to think clearly and understand rational logic is limited and it requires several people giving you the same rational response before you give up your irrational requests.

The outcome of this difference is the loss of time and money for each individual problem that occurs in a society. Each lackey that you have to go through costs both the business and the person’s time and money. The average number of lackeys correlates with the efficiency of any system, whether private or public, and thus affects that national success and the individual success of the nations citizens.

So why does a difference exist? It exists due to the underlying philosophies that each culture abides by. In a culture like the American culture, it is the individual that is primary, then everything else based on that person’s preference. In a culture like Bangladesh, it is the family that is primary, then the neighbors and what they might think, then maybe themselves. In a culture like the American culture where people are more likely to feel personally responsible for the outcomes of their job and the people they interact with, they will go out of their way to take actions that further themselves and people around them. In a culture like the asian cultures, where people are afraid of overstepping their roles and having the wrath of their fathers/boss/government upon their heads, they are careful to tread lightly and not stick their necks out too far in fear that it will be chopped off.

Business Tree

If you hate analogies, please stop reading.
See? I’m considerate sometimes.

A good business is like a tree. A good everything is like a tree. A good tree is like a tree.
But I digress.
A good business has aspects that are both above the ground as well as below the ground. The aspect of the tree that is below the ground achieves the following:
-Foundation, provides support and protection against forces from above
-Nutrients, water and minerals that the tree requires to survive
-Seed, the essence and germination of the tree

The aspect of the tree that is above the ground achieves the following:
-Staple food, the air which carries the carbons that are the building block of the tree
-Communication, a source of input and output from other trees and other life
-Reproduction, the ability for growth beyond its self, the growth of a progeny

A good business can benefit from having all or at least most of the aspects of a tree. But what I wanted to talk about specifically here is the process of growth in the tree and the business.
It’s very easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when you’re a small drone inside your own business. Even as the business owner (actually.. especially as the owner) the day to day tasks will overwhelm you and it’ll be difficult to keep in mind just how your business is growing. What eventually happens is that your business becomes this cancerous entity that has far too much growth in certain areas and not enough in others.
Balance is the key, and a tree is a good example of this balance. If the tree has too much above the ground, there isn’t enough below ground to support it and it will eventually suffer. It might even die if it doesn’t stop producing leaves and bark, and begins to focus on reaching out its roots into the ground. Same issue for the flip side, if it’s too bottom heavy, there isn’t enough of a influx of the trees staple diet.
Similarly, if a business focuses too much on it’s outer aspect. If the business focuses too much on customers, features, design, advertisement, etc, then the business will eventually teeter-totter on an unsteady foundation and eventually collapse. If the business spends too much time on it’s backend process, employees, partners, product quality, etc, it will not grow fast enough to keep up with competition and there won’t be enough revenue resource to feed the business anymore.

Another key feature to a tree is it’s ability to trim it’s resources. When a tree doesn’t require the roots, it sheds them. When a tree doesn’t require the leaves, it sheds them. Grass sheds it’s roots when it’s mowed down. Oaks shed it’s leaves when photosynthesis is too difficult during the colder seasons.
Businesses, to be successful, requires the ability to shed both it’s visible and invisible parts. Businesses need to be able to drop an unsuccessful logo, design, or product. businesses need to be able to shed old infrastructures and employees that don’t fit anymore. All this needs to occur with the grace of a tree. It may sound cold-hearted to fire an employee that has a family and has been working for you for years. But keeping those employees leads ultimately to the decline of the business as a whole. Rot will begin to grow internally and soon it will spread to the surface. This rot doesn’t just affect the business and the business owner, but it affects both the employees as well as the customers and even the entire industry.

Birds and Bees of Success

The trick to life is to be the best at whatever you want.
Yes it does require winners and losers.
The fact that you are alive versus possible other people in your place means that you won something.
To be more clear. A small sperm went through a lot of trouble to get to that egg and you are now the product.
It beat all the other sperm. It was the winner.
That sperm was the best. If you don’t wanna do something for anyone, not even yourself. then do something for that little sperm that swam through toxic and dangerous conditions known as the female vagina so that you could exist.
Be the best at whatever you want.
That’s all that is required of you ever.

Use the shit out of this phrase

As we walked out of the restaurant with our much anticipated end-of-the-week-binge lunch, my coworker said out loud:
“I am going to eat the shit out of this food.”
It wasn’t a new phrase to me, or a new method of use for that phrase. But for some reason, that specific Friday mid afternoon, something clicked inside my head.
And heart.
I now, internally and externally, use that phrase with much delight and innocent wide-eyed wonder.
“I’m gonna watch the shit out of this movie.”
“I’ll work the shit out of my job.”
“I love the shit out of my girl.”
“I’m gonna write the shit out of this post.”
There is no other phrase that I can think of that expresses, with such succinctness, delight, excitement, passion, inspiration, and motivation, an emotion towards a particular task.
It’s a phrase of the successful, the proud, the worthy. It is the expression of the human that delights in his or her own life and his and her own abilities. It’s both a warm hearted gesture as well as a cold rational decision. It is like a prayer, a meditation, a fierce cry before engaging in battle. It is a command, a piece of wise advice, a child’s innocent request to play.
It should have been in every piece of revolutionary document for independence and freedom.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and pursuing the shit out of Happiness.”

Failure is key to success

When I was younger and smarter I used to have a theory that for every bad thing that happened to me, I should get something good in return. And for all the good things that happen, something bad will happen in return. I was always afraid of feeling good too often because then I knew that something terrible was about to happen. And I got through bad situations with the faith that something good will come soon.
I once used to be really cocky, a long time ago, back before I became modest and humble like I am today. And I explained to my first boss this theory and then proposed to him a corollary to this theory. What if we can create the bad situations and thus take charge over our lives? But it’s not so simple. I’ve learned since then that messing with the natural progression of things will result in things becoming even worse than ever.
But I don’t think I was that far off. I believe failure, even though we shouldn’t try to induce it on purpose, is necessary for success to occur. Life offers us lots of moments of failure, and these failures are an opportunity for us to finally hit the “delete” key in our mind.
In any moment where I have felt uncomfortable, bad, wrong, off, unhappy, angry, and all other negative type emotions there is some failure on my part involved. Even if there seems to be some obvious proof of “this is TOTALLY not my fault” there is some part of it that is my fault. It takes two to tango, even with fate.
The failure comes from a behavior I have and some actions I’ve taken or have not taken. The behavior is determined by the things I believe, my core values and principles. So if there is a behavior that got me to the crap-bucket I’m sitting in, then there is a faulty belief associated that drives the faulty behavior. Failure is an opportunity to finally “delete” this faulty belief.
Humans are dictated by habits. We have good habits that gives us what we want in life and we have bad habits that give us what we don’t want. We are creatures of habits and we have lots of them. We’re actually nothing but habits. We define ourselves to others by our habits even:
Hi, I’m an engineer. I have a habit of going crazy if I don’t know why something isn’t working like I think it should.
Hello, I’m a teacher. I have a habit of getting really annoyed at stupid people and so I try to make sure my future isn’t full of annoyances.
When we fail, there is some habit at play, and the emotions attributed to failure is a strong indicator that there is now an opportunity to make a difference in our life. Once we are aware that a faulty habit has caused a failure, we can analyze what that habit was and what belief or set of beliefs led to that habit. Then we can “delete” the bad habit and re-create a new habit that is geared towards success.
But when we try to avoid failure we cannot have progression. We either get complacent with how our life situations are and so we stop doing anything further to improve. Unfortunately in life, if you’re not improving, you’re degrading. Or we try and find lots of good habits that we try to take on so that we can become better. But, because all we’ll be doing is just trying to add more good habits on top of very old bad habits, nothing really changes. It’s like trying to keep a collapsing building from falling apart due to faulty foundation by adding more floors.
When you fail, you’re gonna feel like shit. There’s no avoiding it. Don’t even try. But after you’re done feeling sorry for yourself, stop and think about what exactly YOU did that helped that failure to occur. Then analyze what system of beliefs you have that caused you to behave that way and then change those beliefs.
If you never fail, you’ll never get such an easy opportunity to improve your internal system.
But don’t worry, that’ll never happen to you, because you will definitely fail eventually.