See The Entire Board

By ellis j. still

cc7 to d8. b5 to xe4. Xc8+. Checkmate.

Chess is a game of strategy… a thinking game that involves a number of theories, combinations, and variations.

Whether or not if you’re an entrepreneur, a book author, have direct reports in an office setting, or hold influence or responsibility of any capacity in any area of your life, your interactions are like a game of chess. The game’s strategies and movements include the sum of individual efforts that work within their responsibilities for the greater good of the team… towards the end game. As the game player, (leader) you cannot expect to just operate within the confines of a minimal area of concern and expect huge results. You must see things on a much bigger playing field and make decisions with intention.  The following are three areas from which to play the game: 

  1. Know the capabilities of your direct reports, or the people around you. In chess, each chess piece, by rule, has a specific purpose and movement that it executes, and as the chess player, it is your goal to use these movements to fill the need for the greater good of the game. In leadership, your people will have strengths and weaknesses. It is in seeing and utilizing the strengths of your people that you position your personnel for the advancement of your company. Moreover, it is also in recognizing and exposing the strengths that are hidden within their weaknesses not only for the greater good, but for your personnel’s personal development as well, which are inter-related. 
  2. See the entire board. Leaders and business owners put together strategic plans for the future based on a set of variables that often remain static. Chess is a game that has many variables of change. Although a good chess player can technically win a game within a few moves, he doesn’t do it by thinking in a linear fashion. He does it by seeing the entire board. The big picture. If he micromanages his pawns, his knights, or his king for that matter, he would lose because he had no idea what the other pieces were doing. Pay attention to your competition. Pay attention to your competition’s promotional campaigns. Pay attention to their high level decision making. Pay attention to your industry. In today’s age of the internet and many forms of communication, being a small business owner is no excuse. It’s just one-on-one chess… you and them. 
  3. The game requires vision. A good chess player can win a game in only a few moves, although the game actually takes many moves. He or she can anticipate, or visualize, what the end-game will be. Vision in this sense of the word is a mental picture based on assumptions and strategies. This also applies to living out one’s dream… the idea or mental picture of a desire in your heart. It isn’t enough to dream – you have to come up with a plan of action… a strategy. This can be the hardest part, but once you start by researching your ideas, the momentum picks up and at that point, it is almost impossible to stop. Once you get the ball rolling your dream will take on a life of its own.  

With practice and patience, anyone can become good at chess, and good at leadership. The game of chess has a rich history, and is often thought of as being a metaphor for life and for leadership. Learning how to play chess can be researched online and in your local library. There is a blog that I also subscribe to that has been helpful to me in learning the game: .

 Question: What is your end game? Are you seeing the entire board, or are you micro-managing to a slow but certain losing battle?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


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