Johnny’s World: Three Steps Ahead

October 31, 2013 9:13 AM4 comments

jworldConsidering that my husband is the offspring of a Soviet immigrant family, and I am the offspring of a whole lot of Western European mutts, we are bound to have extreme differences in taste, attitudes, and interests. Despite the facts that both of us were raised in America and we’ve never enjoyed citizenship to any other nation, we are slowly finding so many things that are weird about one another, due simply to our upbringing.

I enjoy classic Americana, burgers, pizza, fries, shakes, and full-sugar Coca-Cola. He loves shucking sunflower seeds, cold borscht, and anything with enough garlic in it to make vampires stay away for an eternity.

As for hobbies I love fashion design, driving too fast, and practicing hardcore consumerism, while he is obsessed with exclusively the newest electronics, a good air conditioning unit, and chess.

Once you marry someone, you are immediately vice properties to one another. Once you live with someone, you become the keeper of secret behavior that is so strange the circus wouldn’t be able to compete. In any event, you also really get to know another soul. I got married rather quickly, and I think it was wonderful to do so because instead of wasting the fireworks and “getting to know you” on casual dating, we jumped right in and now have entertainment at all times learning what sort of freak we’re living with.

I always knew my husband had a fondness for chess, as he is an Ivy League fancy-pants and, in my uneducated mess of a head, I assume anyone that goes to overpriced learning institutions must be into something as difficult and poncy as chess. I had little idea to what extent and depth this fondness ran.

One day a friend of his notified him that some great Soviet (now Russian) chess grandmaster was on Twitter. Victor immediately searched, followed, tweeted at, and was followed back by the one and only Garry Kasparov. I knew Russians were obsessed with chess and that they enjoyed a long lineage of grandmaster champion players. Kasparov did so well in chess that only a computer could beat him. He ran for president of the Russian Federation. He opens chess schools and is a major human rights activist in his native country. Kasparov immediately invited us to have dinner and to pick his brain about what we could do for the LGBT community in Russia as Americans, and how we can help.

In discussing Kasparov, my husband told me a story about how the average player can see between two and four moves ahead while Kasparov could apparently see something like 13 moves into the future. I obviously found this statistic stunning and tried to apply the theory to my life and business.

I have been managing and maintaining my own career for about 17 years now with help from wonderful friends and professionals, but I realized that had I not been able to see even two steps ahead of myself, or my inability to see 13 steps ahead of myself, could have meant the difference in qualifying for the Olympics or not, being successful at business or not, or missing great opportunities that could have been or not. I know that on more than one occasion I have turned down work that I wasn’t interested in or thought was beneath me, but had I really thought about where it could have led, I may have become the gay Steve Jobs or perhaps I made the right decision as I could have turned out like whichever X-List celebrity who resorts to porn or cleans your windshield at the gas station.

I realized that much of our lives is dictated by thinking in the moment and making tough decisions on the spot, when in reality we should look ahead to what could be if we don’t make the right decision. Spite, anger and indifference are no ways to make a snap judgment about life or business. You must be methodical and try to see as far into the future of this chain reaction we call life, as to best prepare yourself for what’s to come. We all have the possibility to enjoy foresight if we choose to explore it, but equally if not more possible is for all of us to have a “Check Mate” moment should we not explore the good and bad of our decisions. Most high-level chess games take many hours to complete because of the masters’ need for foresight, think how much easier life would be if we tried to see if not 13, then only three steps ahead.

  • MeredithMiner

    Now I feel like I should be playing chess again. Thinking back, when I did play, life was more organized than now.

  • Ali dM

    “I assume anyone that goes to overpriced learning institutions must be into something as difficult and poncy as chess.”

    ROFL

    -Poncy Chess Fan

  • Lady Lisa

    It’s great to see that your husband’s love of chess has made you think about prior decisions you made on the spot, without thinking ahead. But the fact that you recognize this in yourself is a positive thing, because you have learned from it. Society itself seems to be becoming so “instant” in everything, that thinking ahead (and the patience of waiting for something) seem to be almost passe, sadly. I remember fondly waiting when I was a very young kid for the film to be developed to see my skating pix, etc., and nowadays kids can throw a tantrum when the computer freezes up for a minute. Patience isn’t just a virtue, I think it’s a skill more that ever as well. I think kids today especially have to really be taught the value of thinking and planning ahead – a challenge for parents and teachers alike, I’m sure! I know this is easy for me to say, but I think if we’re in a situation where we are forced to deal with people who are jerks or deliberately anger us, to just look at these people and situations as all being ‘transient’, and to not lose sight of our original goal or possible future chances we could get; they’re like a few rocks in a pond that don’t disrupt the flow of the water – or the flow of your future, that’s how I look at it. Of course, it’s important to think on the spot, but it’s also equally important to think about how a quick thought decision may (or may not) affect your future. The trick and the flair is in balancing the two, I think.

  • MartinR80

    Fun, smart, and with many layers. Good column, Mr. Weir!

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