Play Chess, Improve Your Business Credentials

There are many things one can do to become a better business leader: attend a leadership conference, read a book on entrepreneurship, study business in college, and network with industry leaders, to name a few. But one activity you may not have thought of when it comes to developing business skills is the game of chess. Simply learning how to play this ancient game of strategy and practicing it regularly can benefit you in the business world. According to Business Coach, Inc., “If you really want to learn about doing business, chess is the game to play.”

There’s a reason chess boards can be found in random places like parks, offices, and school classrooms. Chess is the ultimate game of strategy that challenges and develops the mind. Moreover, the way it encourages players to formulate a strategy/plan of attack by anticipating their opponent’s next move is an obvious parallel to corporate strategy as far as protecting something of value and engaging in a battle with an opponent to protect that asset. The objective is the same: successfully navigate offensive and defensive tactics to come out on top. There’s no set “winner” in the business world, but if you can utilize strategies to protect your company and become a leader in your industry, then you’re a winner in the unofficial corporate handbook.

Besides the overall similarity, there are many components of chess that can be applied to business. Here are some parallels:

1. Planning your next move

Chess is all about anticipating your opponent’s next move. The ultimate goal of chess is to protect the king piece. The player that checkmates the other player’s king wins the game. Successful chess players devise a strategy of moves before they even begin playing and are prepared to respond to their challenger’s moves. They see several moves ahead and avoid being caught off guard. This way of thinking is easily applied to business. A good business leader takes the time to plan their approach to important decisions and thinks on a macro level of how certain moves will affect the company structure. According to the YouTube Video, “10 Things Business Can Learn From Chess,” the successful chess player and entrepreneur should “think more than one step ahead. Do not accept a short term gain if it would mean future restrictions of opportunities.”

2. Challenging your memory

In order to plan ahead in chess, you must memorize several different moves. Improving your memory is great for business as well because it will help you stay organized and balance a busy schedule.

3. Learning the value of sacrifice

Chess teaches an important lesson in that in playing the game, one realizes that sacrifice is inevitable. At some point in the game, you will likely need to sacrifice a less important piece to gain a greater advantage later in the game. In business, entrepreneurs must make sacrifices as well, such as deciding where to spend their money or reinventing itself through staff cuts and organizational changes to remain competitive in the market. It all comes down to making an investment in order to garner a return later on.

4. Learning patience

Chess teaches patience also because you need to get your pieces positioned properly before you can make an effective attack, which takes time. Acting prematurely can result in major losses. Patience is a vitally important skill to possess in business, as you should make logical, informed decisions backed by research rather than making any rash moves.

5. Playing by the rules

Chess has some clearly-defined rules, and like any game of strategy, you must honestly abide by them and not cheat, or risk being disqualified. If you’re playing a game with a friend, cheating may not carry any long-term consequences, but in the business world, there are no second chances. Breaking rules in business could lead to termination or even criminal charges.

6. Thinking outside the box

Chess teaches players to think creatively to take their opponent by surprise. Likewise, a business leader needs to think creatively to come up with a marketing campaign that will make them stand out against competitors.

7. Learning the aim of the game

It may sound obvious, but players must understand the fundamentals and overall goal of the game, or they will be defeated against a more experienced player. The objective of the game is to capture the other player’s pieces and trap the king in a checkmate, rendering him useless. A player who doesn’t understand the basics of chess will surely lose, just as a businessperson who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of their company, doesn’t understand its goal, will fail. Everything an employee does for their company should be undertaken with the intent of working toward a common goal.

8. Managing your time and resources wisely

In chess, time and resources are crucial. It’s inevitable that you’ll lose a few of your pieces along the way, even if you win the game, but your strategy should be designed around protecting your king, and it’s better to be on the offensive than the defensive. You don’t want to be caught off guard and made vulnerable. Additionally, competitive chess matches are timed. In businesses, managing resources (such as staff and capital) and time (being able to make quick yet knowledgeable decisions) are key components of the job.

9. Taking initiative

You can’t be afraid to take initiative in chess. Be confident in your moves and attack your opponent’s king whenever possible to put them on the defense. You should think of business in much the same way. You need to take risks and be confident in yourself and your decisions to get ahead.

10. Never giving up

Lastly, the game’s not over until it’s over, meaning you shouldn’t ever give up, even if the odds are not in your favor. There’s always time to make a comeback. This lesson applies to life and being a good businessperson as well, because it takes time and patience to build a successful career, but you should never give up on your dreams.
For more information on how the principles of chess relate to business, check out this helpful article.

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