Crippled CEO Blog #069 (hehe):
“When you see a good move, look for a better one.” – Emanuel Lasker, World Chess Champion from 1894-1921
Y’all know that I play chess. I have a 90 minute lesson with my coach, International Master Vitaly Neimer in about two hours.
There is an unexpected benefit to playing chess. It’s also a benefit you get from playing video games. It is also a benefit I get from having cerebral palsy and being in a wheelchair.
It’s problem-solving. But not what you’re thinking.
It seems pretty obvious that practicing chess improves your problem-solving skills, and it does. That’s not the surprising part.
The piece that I have picked up from chess, and also from video games, and also just living my life as a cripple isn’t just an enhanced ability to solve problem, but perhaps more importantly, the understanding that problems which at first seem absolutely impossible, if worked on long enough, if tried again and again, if toiled over even when they seem hopeless, can eventually have a solution. It’s the idea that impossible problems aren’t impossible. Because being good at solving problems is awesome, but you won’t even bother trying if you don’t think there’s a chance. Doing these exercises that teach you, by example, that tough problems start out looking unsolvable gives you the motivation necessary to find the answer and not just give up.
Like I said, I have started out with a healthy dose of this just by being lucky enough to be born with CP. At this level of disability, everything is a problem solving exercise, most of which initially seem impossible, and almost all of them are entirely unique to me. When all of your parts work like everybody else’s, someone else who moves like you can show you how to ride a bike or type on a keyboard. Nobody else is quite like me, so I’ve had to come up with my own ways of doing literally everything, from using a pen to typing to eating to using the bathroom. Once you do this enough times, you start to assume solutions exist in every area of your life, and every area of your business. You find ways to upgrade your pool fence with options that weren’t supposed to be possible. You break the number one rule of mixing business with friends and family by ONLY working with friends and family. You have a record-breaking year during a global pandemic.
It is important to get better at solving problems, but it is even more important to train yourself to know that impossible problems can be solved. If you weren’t fortunate enough to be born with cerebral palsy, I recommend games. Chess is great. Video games are great. Puzzles are awesome. Do low stakes tasks that initially seem totally impossible. And then do them anyways. Doing the impossible takes practice, but it is a good skill to have.
(Why don’t you just share this with somebody? Do it for me. Also, guarantee you get next week’s post by sending a text message to 484848 with the word CRIP in the message. Your mom will be proud. She told me last night.)