“In order to become a Grandmaster, you must already be one,” Alexander Shabalov told Maurice Ashley after Ashley lost a crucial chess match and missed the opportunity of becoming a Grandmaster. Ashley then realized that before he could focus on winning games, he needed to work on perfecting himself. From that point on, he focused on process over results, and became a Grandmaster before he officially won the title.
Shabalov’s advice translates to many areas of life. We often fall into the trap of thinking we’ll change after some future milestone.
When I find someone great, I’ll be the partner that I want to be.
When I have kids, I’ll be the parent that I want to be.
When I get a great job, I’ll be the employee that I want to be.
When I find a great cause, I’ll be the contributor that I want to be.
When I get that promotion, I’ll be the leader that I want to be.
It’s incredibly naïve thinking. It assumes that we’ll be able to quickly turn around those habits and behaviors that have become second nature to us over time. In reality, this never happens. At least, not in the timely manner that we’d like.
Deciding that you’ll wait until you’re scaling Mt. Everest to be a mountain climber seems like a poor strategy. And waiting to become a fighter until you’re in the ring with Tyson Fury is unlikely to end well.
“A man is worked upon by what he works on,” Frederick Douglass once said. He would know. As a slave and free man, he witnessed how the choices people made — both the slaves and the slave owners — transformed them.
Don’t wait .The decisions that you make today will determine the type of person you’ll be in the future.
When you see a great parent or a great leader, you’re not seeing someone who one day decided to fill that role. You’re seeing the product of many small decisions, compounded through consistency. You’re seeing someone who focused on being a great parent or great leader long before they had the title.
What type of person do you want to be? And how can you start becoming that person today?
In order to become a Grandmaster, you must already be one. Don’t wait. Start being the person you want to be today.