You Only Control Your Next Move

There has been an incredible amount of change going on around me over the last month… Careers beginning, jobs changing, long term relationships ending, and close friends making a lifelong commitment.

As I and those I love wrestle with change, I am struck by a profound thought.

In every situation, we hold only the power to choose our next move.

Consider the game of chess.

Strategy requires thinking several moves in the future and considering how the opponent’s future moves might affect our pieces.

Yet each player makes his or her move in turn and under no circumstances does any player get to make more than one move at a time.

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Contrast this with how we react to challenges in our daily life.

–       We lament the decisions of the past

–       We worry about what will happen in the future

–       We blame others for our situation

–       We blame ourselves for getting into this mess
 Certainly life is more complicated than a game of chess.
Still, our ‘moves’ consist of the decisions we make or the actions we choose to take.

Husband and wife team Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander take this concept further in their book The Art of Possibility.

In the chapter titled ‘Being The Board’ they share the distinction between seeing yourself as one of the pieces (The powerful queen or the wily pawn) and choosing instead to see yourself as The board on which the game is played.

Quoting from the book:

The first part of the practice is to declare: “I am the framework for everything that happens in my life.” Or – “If I cannot be present without resistance to the way things are and act effectively, if I feel myself to be wronged, a loser, or a victim, I will tell myself that some assumption I have made is the source of my difficulty“.

The second part of this practice is to ask yourself in regard to the unwanted circumstances: “Well, how did this get on the board that I am?

Being the board is not about turning the blame on yourself. It is about making a difference and designing conversations to repair breakdowns in relationship. You name yourself as the instrument to make all your relationships into effective partnerships.

More importantly, the Zander’s discuss the impact this distinction has on your ability to live powerfully.

When you or I blame the weather or someone else, to that degree, in exactly that proportion, we lose our power. We lose the ability to steer the situation in another direction. We lose any leverage we may have had, because there is nothing I can do about your mistakes or you mine.

I hope you have a powerful week!

Every Sunday I send a short email with my best work. If you would like to be on the list to receive articles like this one CLICK HERE.

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