Failure-The Greatest Learning Tool


Arguably, the most fascinating game ever invented is chess.  Learning how to play chess is simple and there is no age, cultural or gender barriers.  One can play chess just for fun, or become serious enough to participate in tournaments.

There is no other game that offers as much to so many areas of life as what chess does.  Just think of how your own children might benefit in life from the lessons chess has to offer.  Following are just a few.

When chess is a topic of conversation a common claim is how masters think ten or more moves ahead. In some cases perhaps, but each time your opponent makes a move it usually changes the moves you had planned.  Opponents’ moves force you to change your strategy constantly.  You learn to become creative.

If you move too quickly it could cause you to lose a piece and subsequently, the game.  It doesn’t take long to learn patience.

If you concentrate on capturing one piece your opponent may ignore your tactics while looking for advantages elsewhere.  Many games are lost because a player concentrates on one area of the game.  You learn quickly to look at the big picture.

Every game produces the exchange of pieces.  You want your remaining pieces to be better positioned than your opponent’s pieces.  You learn how valuable strategy is.  We have all heard the cliché for success, “plan your work then work your plan.” It causes you to think.  You learn to calculate.

In tournaments you have so many minutes to make so many moves.  (Example you must make 30 moves in 90 minutes.)  Your clock starts on time whether you are there or not.  You soon learn to be on time; reliable if you will.  You also learn time management.

Many games are won despite the victor being down a piece.  Games can produce situations whereas position is more important than the number of pieces.  Never give up.  You learn perseverance.

I was eighteen when I learned how to play chess.  Throughout my thirties I was putting over twenty hours a week into chess.  My reward came in 1997 when I earned the title of expert.  It was a goal I set for myself years earlier.  You learn how important setting goals are.

Setting a goal to achieving that goal took twenty-five years and believe me when I say, there were many failures during that time.

Failures?  Why wouldn’t one just give up?  Like everything in life the more you do something the better you get.  Every game I lost would result in endless analysis until I could figure out where I made a wrong move.  Sometimes I could figure out my losing move while other times I would ask for a higher ranked player to help me figure out where I went wrong.  Humility is a big part of learning; never be afraid to ask for help.  Countless hours were spent analyzing my lost games.  A peculiar thing though; I never analyzed a game I won.  What was the need to?  Seems odd doesn’t it?  I learned very little from all the won games but learned so much more from the games I lost.

Apply this same logic to kids sports and the failure to win the game should result in learning.  Everything kids experience from their involvement in sports will have an affect on them later in life.  With the right attitude from the coaches in their lives they learn how to win, even when they lose.

Coaching kids goes far beyond winning or losing a game.  How a coach handles failure does create an impression on the kids.  It could affect a decision later in their life, as to whether they try again or just give up.

Regardless of whether it be a game or a real life situation, take advantage of failures and learn from them.  It’s just like becoming an expert in the game of chess.

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