So, we’ve already learnt that chess can make you smarter and improve your brain power, but how do you apply that knowledge to your everyday life? It’s not immediately obvious how skills gained through playing chess can help you out in day to day tasks. Some skills will have a practical application whereas others will require more imagination to see how they can be of benefit to you off the chess board, but it’s true that chess can lend a helping hand to life’s problems.
Playing chess has been shown to increase problem solving abilities, act as a creative outlet and improve memory so it can actually have a positive impact on many different areas of life. Whatever your focus is at the moment – whether it’s aiming for a big promotion, starting a new venture or planning for a period of change – the techniques learned through chess can be applied in different ways to support your task.
How to Win (and Lose) Gracefully
Perhaps one of the most overlooked benefits to playing chess is the opportunity it provides to practice being courteous and building relationships with opponents. Whether you win or lose, doing so gracefully does not come naturally to everyone so the repeated experience during chess games can be useful. There are bound to be other instances in life where you need to keep your cool and think before you react. You might lose out on a job to a colleague or earn employee of the week; either way, it’s better to be prepared with an empathic and conscientious response rather than rubbing it in their face or becoming emotional. Keeping your cool in highly charged situations can only improve interpersonal relationships and raise you up in the esteem of others.
Believe in Yourself
It’s not all about other people though. Playing chess is a complex, multifaceted skill and, as such, it can help to build self confidence. Getting involved with regular chess games exposes you to competition, with the potential for success and failure, in a controlled, small scale environment. This is great practice for the wider world. Pulling off a tricky move or doing well against a worthy opponent proves that you are capable of achieving more than you give yourself credit for; it’s a good feeling that can be replicated through taking the same chances in life that you would take on the chess board. The game also involves a set of skills that are viewed highly by many people. Other popular pastimes, like roulette or mah-jong, require an entirely different skillset; chess is thought of as ‘the intellectual’s game’ and this reputation can deliver a confidence boost.
Chess is a great way to improve your critical thinking skills. Strengthening this area of knowledge can prove advantageous in many different real life situations. If you’re trying to make a decision, no matter how big or small, the skills that you’ve learnt playing chess can help make sure that you consider all of the available options, prioritise those which benefit you the most, and make a decision based on logical thinking. Being able to look one or two steps ahead of where you are is a valuable strength to have; a considered decision is often more successful than rushing into something feet first without weighing up all your options. The more adept you become at chess, the more likely you will be able to spot patterns in other situations. This can prove useful when trying to make a decision about which direction to take your life or career.
Employee of the Week
You may have seen that vague phrase ‘transferable skills’ written on application forms and job descriptions underneath the ‘Desirable’ heading. The truth is, you can be the best match for a role that it’s possible to be and you could still lose out to a candidate who has a broader range of relevant skills than you have under your belt. However, the good news is that chess can help you to bolster those ‘desirable’ skills that all employers are after. These can range from the ability to think clearly under pressure, to being able to control your temper in stressful circumstances, to approaching a problem from different angles. As we’ve already discovered, playing the game can increase your self confidence, which makes you more able to handle the responsibility of a testing role, and improve your interpersonal skills, meaning that you’ll get on well with colleagues and could be a good option for supervisory duties.
More important than anything else is the fact that being an avid chess player can help you to believe in yourself. Everybody needs a hobby that they can be proud of, and chess is the perfect combination of cerebral effort, socialization and good fun. So don’t forget to include all of these skills next time that you’re writing your resumé.