Book Review: How Life Imitates Chess by Gary Kasparov

lifechess
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
February 1, 2017

How Life Imitates Chess by former World Chess Champion and grandmaster Garry Kasparov does an incisive job of showing how life is a mirror for chess.  Or is it the opposite?

Filled with much erudition regarding the intricacies of life, How Life Imitates Chess sifts through the data points, or perhaps ‘life-lessons’ is a better term, which helped him grow as a chess player that became a grandmaster, but more importantly, as an individual.  Each of these life-lessons helped him grow in countless ways, regardless whether it was facing dismal defeats, or manifesting intensely resounding victories.

To that effect, Kasparov makes it a point to go into why constant self-analysis is essential not only to survive in the world, but in fact to thrive.  Self-awareness and peak performance go hand in hand, as some of you may know.  Because of this Kasparov urges everyone to become conscious of their individual inherent decision making process and strive to polish it to become wiser.

Some of the varying components featured in the book are the myriad fascinating stories of individuals, chess matches, companies et al., which are used to drive home lessons to be gleaned from the events that took place within those instances.

Another notable point mentioned in the book is the importance of not becoming your own enemy.  In one instance, the author noted how it’s important to find the nascent stage of a crisis before it becomes a full-fledged crisis.  This might seem obvious at first blush, but we’ve all seen our mental state – or that of someone else – be overridden by emotions, which therein overrides our logic.  And not being able to use logic is downright disastrous since your mental precision is only a shade of its true power.

Furthermore, when an individual get emotional, not only does the amygdala go into overdrive, but “…the logic center processors [neocortex] get almost turned off and blocked.  Adrenaline, hormone levels, and blood pressure rise, and our memories become less efficient.  We begin to lose our ability to communicate effectively, and we turn to a form of autopilot to make decisions.”[Emphasis Added][1]

Hands down, my favorite part of the book, although admittedly there were many intriguing points, was how Kasparov relentless speaks about having to question everything.  As he warns:

“Question the status quo at all times, especially when things are going well.  When something goes wrong, you naturally want to do better the next time, but you must train yourself to want to do it better even when things go right.”[135][Bold Emphasis Added][2]

This reminds me of poker, as well as many other things in life, where a person might make the most ridiculous and stupid choice, and still get rewarded.  If an individual chooses not to question their actions, they will simply not grow. Someone may make a very poor choice, and still end up winning untold sums of money.  When such is the case, individuals rarely if ever opt for introspection to verify that they were correct.  The assumption is that if the money is won…then the choice ‘had to’ be a good one.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Moreover:

“Questioning yourself must become a habit, one strong enough to surmount the obstacles of overconfidence and dejection.  It is a muscle that can be developed only with constant practice.”[3]

Another additional point brought up by Kasparov  was about the vital significance not only to move out of our comfort zones, but also to challenge ourselves in creative ways to push us into new boundaries.

Regarding this, Kasparov minces no words:

“When we regularly challenge ourselves with something new – even something not obviously related to our immediate goals – we build cognitive and emotional “muscles” that make us more effective in every way.  If we can overcome our fear of speaking in public, or of submitting a poem to a magazine, or learning a new language confidence will flow into every area of our lives  Don’t get so caught up in “what I do” that you stop being a curious human being.  Your greatest strength is the ability to absorb and synthesize patterns, methods, and information.  Intentionally inhibiting the ability to focus too narrowly is not only a crime, but one with few rewards.”[4]

This book almost has shades of being a self-help book, almost.  The book isn’t that, but it’s so versatile, and the book harpoons so many little nuggets of knowledge that it can certainly be used as such a tool.

In plainspeak, if you’re looking for a book that delves into Chess, Life, Business, while also searching for gems of wisdom that may help you become a sharper, stronger, and more intuitive individual, but also dives into the importance of quality actions via precise decision making, then ruminate upon this book.

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Sources & References

[1] Christopher Hadnagy, Unmasking The Social Engineer, pg. 166.
[2] Gary Kasparov, How Life Imitates Chess, pg. 135.
[3] Ibid., pp. 34-35.
[4] Ibid. pg. 170.

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Financial Flagship – Managing Financial Oversights

MoneyMaze

“May your choices reflect your hopes, and not your fears.”
– Nelson Mandela

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By: Zy Marquiez
December 9, 2015

My mind is racing, the gears are turning, and there’s just no way am not going to end up writing, so might as well make myself useful/productive, right?

Continuing in the in depth examination that initiated in attempting to figure out what is the best use of one’s time, we will now steer this introspection from time use, to finance.

In any case, was thinking about a myriad ideas when a few of them struck me. The first of these being the issue of financial independence.

Ultimate financial freedom is essentially the capability – at least how it was taught to me – to be able to live completely free via your financial assets et al. Some schools of thought tend to think of this as retirement, and they would be right in a way. There are a lot of directions this notion can head into, but let’s just stick for that one for the time being.

Although it might seem insurmountable at first, like losing 25 lbs, overtaking a fear, or even talking to a certain someone, it all great events/adventures in life begin with a choice. Without said choice, one cannot conquer any goals, yet alone overcome any obstacles.

Seems obvious doesn’t it? So why is it that so many people run about the mill without even trying? There are a myriad reasons for that, but the point is that for every nine people with excuses, there’s someone out there pouring their heart/mind/soul into a specific goal, no matter how large or small. Those individuals should be lauded, because they are the exception, not the rule.

Getting back to harpooning the main goal, we need to start with baby steps. If we bolt from the starting line without a semblance of where we want to go, then we’re steering without a rudder, adrift on the sea of uncertainty that at times can be life. We certainly wouldn’t want to go towards our destination unprepared for that would be extremely unwise and counterproductive. Where does that leave us?

We need to set our course, of course. Now, for simplicity’s sake [there really should be some sort of rule for making things as simple as possible], let’s combine the ultimate idea/goal of financial freedom, with smaller more tangible scenarios we can attain. In this way we can keep in mind the entire breath of goals – the short term financial goals more readily attainable, with more long term goals that build upon those.

So we can’t retire immediately?   Well why not start saving bucket loads of money in the meantime in order to attain that, and/or other goals, whatever those may be.

Now, keep in mind, since most people won’t attain financial freedom quickly, they will give up outright. Just like they do with many other goals. That’s definitely not the way to go if you want to breakaway from the conventional monotonous funk that can be a daily routine.

Yes, it can be daunting. But aren’t most things that are worth it a little bit of work, at minimum?   What about retirement? Isn’t that a goal to strive for? That’s not something that just happens. Like your health, it is something that we must work on daily to achieve the desired results.

In any case, let’s begin.

Am going to cite three examples of things that were taking place in my life that were draining my financial capabilities/savings quite a bit by untold magnitudes.

The first example of these is coffee. Was given coffee since the nascent age of 5 years old, and was instantly hooked. It became my go to drink for everything. Need a pick-me-up? Coffee. Stressed? Coffee. Want something you like? Coffee. Simple, and efficient. And downright expensive in the long run. Let me repeat that again: It, is, downright, EXPENSIVE, in the long run. Experience is the best teacher you know.

My favorite place to financial fund and donate part of my retirement to at the time was Barnes & Noble. Furthermore, to be exact, it wasn’t just coffee; it was that, and in fact caramel macchiato. Loaded with sugar & caramel [extra caramel shots cost, yes, more money!]. My blood sugar levels are going up just at the mere thought of such flavorsome drink.

How much did these cost? Anywhere between $4-6 dollars between coffee & tips.   To make things simple – law of simplicity here – let’s round that up to $5. Easy, two a day, for a minimum of 5 times a week. This is really low-balling it, because many times a whole day could be spent researching things from sunrise to sunset, in which case the amount of coffee gone through just got out of control. Think crack addict, but with coffee. Hey, we’re being honest here right?

What other financial wrongdoing was yours truly partaking in?   Television – not that much was watched. Then again, regardless of whether it was or not, it was paid for, so it was financial ineptitude in all its glory. That’s like slipping on soap and meeting the floor face to face like it was your lover and having the dinner that just took you half a day to make scattered all over the floor whilst the plate smashes into a million pieces, just like your ego. Yeah, don’t do that.  

How much was the loss? If my recollection is correct, it was around $80. Many people pay more than this too.

Finally, what other horrendous choice was yours truly making that was utterly draining my savings? Drinking/Pool/Restaurants. And no, sadly, this does not count regular fast food runs. That might be on another piece.

Every weekend. Sometimes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Talk about overdoing it huh?

How much did this vice cost on average? Easy, $100 a weekend [yes, not even a week!], and many times, more than that. Talk about a waste of money/resources/time.

Now for the fun part. Let’s tally it up, on a week by week, month by month, and yearly basis for each of those downright ridiculous habits. Am not saying don’t ever go out, drink a cup of coffee, or watch a movie. But everything in moderation.

First, coffee. Two cups a day, five times a week [at minimum], at $5 each, is $50 a week. That’s $200 a month, and $2400 a year. Oh man, my heart just sinks knowing that. Not joking.

Secondly, cable TV cost $80 a month [$20 weekly], and $960 a year. And most of the time the TV went unwatched! Talk about a double whammy.

Third, we have going out on weekends. This cost a preposterous $100 a weekend, which adds up to $400 a month, and worse, $4800 year.

Now we have:

Coffee/Caramel Macchiato:

Weekly: $50
Monthly: $200
Yearly: $2400

Cable TV:

Weekly: $20
Monthly: $80
Yearly: $960

Going out:

Weekly Weekend[ly]: $100
Monthly: $400
Yearly: $4800

Total from all financial oversights:

Weekly: $170
Monthly: $680
Yearly: $8160

How about them apples?

Now, if that last particular number isn’t a huge red flag, nothing will ever be.

That is not smoke signals ascending on the horizon. That’s an F10 financial vortex/conflagration dematerializing all your savings in your personal treasure chest.

This is just a snippet of the financial failure in my personal life, in hopes that it may better aid you in reaching your goals.

Instead of financially eviscerating your savings, why not spend time with folks that lift you up?

There is always room for improving your financial latitude. The first step is realizing what are the holes in your financial flagship, and repairing those, one at a time. Without a decent ship to steer into your horizons/dreams you’ll just be stuck at the pier without functioning vessel.

Now that you’ve seen my personal example, what are some of the vices you engage in that would be able to increase the financial flexibility of you and yours?

We must realize, that each dollar federal reserve note is like a seed. It will only sprout when planted. The more seeds you plant, the greater your bounty will be in your future, and that of your family’s.

Are you seeing the financial possibilities pop-up in your mind? Are the gears turning attempting to figure out where you can zap the foes of finance so you can be better prepared for your future? Are you seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Great.

Now, if you haven’t done so, put pen to paper and get moving. Time is money!

Remember, everything is a choice. Even inaction, is a choice. So ruminate a bit, and make the right choice for yourself.

“No matter what the situation, remind yourself, ‘I have a choice’”
– Deepak Chopra