I, much like every other human on Earth, have hopes and dreams. I’ve had different goals and priorities which have changed over the course of my life, but the one thing in common with all of my loftier goals is that I’ve failed to achieve them thus far. I’ve habitually avoided coming to terms with why I continue to fail over and over again, at least up until now. Looking back at some of my more profound failures, I think I finally know why I keep failing to achieve my goals.
In elementary school and throughout high school I was an avid chess player. My goal was always to earn the Grandmaster title — the highest honour a chess player could hope to achieve. I took lessons weekly, I played online chess every day religiously, and I competed in national and international tournaments.
I never came close.
In fact in retrospect, I never gave myself a chance to succeed. You see, becoming a Grandmaster requires mastery of every aspect of the game — extensive theoretical opening and endgame knowledge, precise tactics and a deep positional understanding of the game. Sure, I would play speed chess for hours on end online, but I never did the hard work and studying needed to understand opening and end game theory or positional play.
At the time, I blamed my lack of progress on the scarcity of tournament opportunities available to me. However, just like a violinist can’t expect to master violin without practicing scales and arpeggios or a sprinter can’t expect to set a world record without training, I shouldn’t — I couldn’t have expected to become a Grandmaster by playing chess recreationally.
I can attribute my Stanford undergraduate rejection letter, my failure at becoming a top seller at IBM within my first year, and a host of my other failures to similar feats of laziness and lack of discipline.
Even as I write this, part of me continues to think that the stars will align and success will just fall into my lap. What’s it going to take for me to get off my ass and succeed?