Blitz Chess and Life’s Surprises

As we get into the second week of February and dive into the rest of the year ahead, I can’t help but take one more look at the previous year. As I think about it now, 2018 was a year of many transitions for me at work and in my personal life (I oftentimes can’t distinguish between the two now): we gave birth to Harana, I transitioned to different roles within Bridge, and have had to work through long cycles of sickness and trips to the emergency room for a good chunk of the year.

Managing all these and everything else in between was certainly not without its set of challenges. Thankfully, difficult situations can also be opportunities.

One of these is the opportunity to develop the ability to think clearly while making quick decisions. By itself, thinking clearly is an essential but hard to master skill. But the real test is to be able to do this under pressure when there are a million other things going on, and time is not on your side.

This reminds me of blitz chess which I’ve been casually playing a lot recently (using this app). It’s a type of game where players have very few minutes to consider their moves versus standard chess. In this game, even players with clear material advantages (as in they have more pieces left on the board versus the other player) can still lose if they consume their allocated time faster than their disadvantaged opponent.

What usually works is to approach the game with a plan and a set of strategies to readily pull from. Then make changes as necessary, keeping track of limited time.

Sometimes life’s surprises require us to think and act like we’re playing blitz chess. Not to mention, to get better at it requires that we take lessons from each difficult experience and bring them with us when the next one comes.

Personally, whenever possible, I still prefer to take my time and think things multiple times over when needing to make critical decisions at work and at home. But life’s surprises don’t always allow for that.


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