MEMOIRS: GRAND-MASTERY IN LEADERSHIP.

Updated: Oct 19, 2021


Thing or two (or more) have already been said about correlation between genius chess players and genius leaders.

This is, however, where gates open and passage - into the author's intimate story about the drive and danger behind playing the game at the level not many, but few, are playing - is granted.

To whom it may concern. A misfit, a rebel, an innovator, a pioneer, a visionary leader on a mission to disrupt existing and set a new standard.

For the sake of the game itself.

Passing the gates, nine treasury rooms, containing ten micro chapters, become available for exploration. Over time, more treasuries will be revealed.






1. THE POWER GAME INSIDE OF A BLACK & WHITE WORLD.

Imagine having earliest childhood memories around chess boards. Chess boards with power to plant the seed of eternal curiosity about the irresistible attraction black & white pieces host.

Attraction that pulls parents and the rest of the family right in. Imagine growing up with this awareness that there is an entire world, a different dimension, in which focus is solely on this power game between black & white.

The ancient power game with "rules that can be learned in about 15 minutes, but with more combinations than atoms in the (observable) universe". *

Now imagine growing up in the presence of a pull that strong that even without ever being a chess player yourself - you become hooked. Instantly and once and for all.

Being a child growing up surrounded by chess stories. And chess stories have it all - intrigue, hero’s journey, anti-hero’s quest, plot twists and climax. And they are colorful beyond imagination.

In fact, one particular story about a competitive chess player had such a powerful influence that it set this precise tone (this is that sharp, precise, hard wiring in the brain and body that happened in the youngest age) that can be experienced inside of the Leader-Ship field. It is the tone that raises the standard for the entire game of leadership as we know it today.

Only with knowing this particular story, it is possible to even start comprehending why some (few, not many) choose to step precisely into this Leader-Ship field and be Mentored for playing at this level.

This is the level that cannot be reached by those who play from checkmate to checkmate, one destination to another. This is the level where it is about the journey and advancing the entire game itself.


* Judit Polgar at TED




2. THE FEROCITY OF A FEMALE CHECKMATE. ON THE MALE CHESS BOARD.


In 1988, the year Mentor in this Leader-Ship field was born, an earthquake happened during and shortly after Thessaloniki Chess Olympiad - a 12 years old female prodigy child took the spotlight and started to blaze the trail in front of the eyes of the entire world. Today known as the greatest female chess player of all time, her childhood dream was to ultimately dominate the entire chess world, no matter the gender. And in a way, that’s exactly what she did.

Judit Polgar.

Girl who defeated a grand-master when she was 11 (causing him to bang his head against the elevator door). Became a world youth champion at the age of 12 and at the age of 14 - champion among boys. Won the title of International Grand-master at the age of 15, breaking the long standing record of the legendary Bobby Fischer and becoming the youngest Grand-master of all times.

The first woman who played men almost exclusively, defeated 11 out 20 male world champions that existed in chess history. The only woman that reached 8th place (still the only woman in top 100) in the absolute world rankings and the only one that ever had the chance to play for the men’s world title.

Imagine now being brought up surrounded by the sound of Judit and her two sisters’ (also prodigies and grand-masters) groove that overpowered any other sound in this ancient, male dominant, game. Sounds that were playing the song about female inadequacy, intellectual inferiority and strengths underestimation.

Mind and power games. Played on men's playgrounds for ages.

Leadership as the most (in)famous of all.






3. THE REAL QUEEN’S GAMBIT.

There is a certain irony in the fact that one of the most dominant chess players of all time, with the image of an alpha male, Garry Kasparov greatly contributed to the making of The Queen’s Gambit, a fictional series about the first female world chess champion.

The very Kasparov who was audacious (some would say arrogant, but in this field that is not a bad word) enough to say out-loud what everybody else already thought:

‘Well, in the past, I have said that there is real chess and women’s chess… Chess does not fit women properly. It’s a fight, you know? A big fight. It’s not for women. Sorry. She’s helpless if she has men’s opposition. I think this is very simple logic. It’s the logic of a fighter, a professional fighter. Women are weaker fighters.

There is also the aspect of creativity in chess. You have to create new ideas. That’s quite difficult, too. Chess is the combination of sport, art and science. In all these fields, you can see men’s superiority. Just compare the sexes in literature, in music or in art. The result is, you know, obvious. Probably the answer is in the genes.’

Everybody else might agree with Kasparov at the time, but the world had little knowledge about three sisters Polgar, whose father, László Polgár, decided to conduct an educational experiment with the thesis that geniuses are made, not born. He wanted to prove that children could make exceptional achievements if trained in a specific specialty from a very early age.

And he proved it. With Judit Polgar, his youngest daughter, being the only woman in the world who defeated a reigning world number one chess player. Kasparov himself.

While demonstrating fierce, aggressive and very creative grand-mastery. In fact, she became very well known for both of those attributes, aggressive style and creative play. Which is not ironic at all.


4. THE MAKING AND BREAKING OF A GENIUS.

When a story like this is imprinted into very young mind - following decades of immersing self in narrative and stories around geniuses, god heads, most powerful leaders, disruptors, pioneers and innovators, those who break the rules, who are in quest for the forbidden colors and go for the impossible - are not a surprising career choice (or better said - career creation).

But what was discovered as a result of that choice is surprising - many of those in the quest for mastery miss that one critical piece.

Yes, the truth is that the highest levels of mastery can be reached by adopting the right attitude (no matter how audacious the goals is - it is possible to be achieved and failure serves only for the purpose of further mastery development, therefore there are no attachments) and having the right support system (the Polgar experiment proved that environment in early years is critical, but this also applies to any other stage).

But there is a missing piece in understanding that it takes a golden opportunity for the brilliance and genius to show up. And that is the opportunity that comes up when circumstances are being consciously created.

* * *

Judit Polgar knew that she lost her first game against Kasparov even before she made her first move. So did most of his opponents. That’s how powerful and mind paralyzing, in her own words, Kasparov’s presence, attitude and image were.

That was the critical moment in her competitive career. Even though she was trained from the age of 5 to defeat the best of the best. Even though she had it all, passion, perseverance and practice.

She needed, though, to consciously create circumstances for her brilliance and genius to emerge, before she could defeat the champion - capitalize on golden opportunity. Which she did, she up leveled in all areas.

So when on that day Kasparov opted for Berlin Wall at the very beginning and her golden opportunity came up - Judit’s genius emerged from the depth of the unknown, unfamiliar, never experienced before and dominated the chess board, dismantling the Berlin Wall brilliantly.

* * *

Anyone who ever played an individual sport knows that there is actually only one opponent on the play-field. The self.

For a child who was surrounded by stories about the Polgar sisters and who decided to start playing tennis, not chess, at the age of 6, that lesson about the true opponent, the self, was a very painful one.

When trainers decided to push hard and develop the talent they clearly recognized in, that resulted in playing training matches exclusively with boys as well as officially competing in the category with older girls. As a strategy this did make some sense, especially having in mind the story about Judit’s success.

However, the reality of losing a lot of matches, on both sides, in training sessions as well as in competitions revealed lack of mental strength to pull through that. During all that time, Yugoslavia was in dark, war times, which left consequences on everyone. Surrounded by loss. Financially and emotionally, by the time parents divorced and the war was over, pushing tennis career further was a real struggle. By the age of 11 it was over for good.

* * *

However, as it turned out, the influence of stories about Judit Polgar’s chess success, combined with that painful tennis lesson, was a symphony that struck a precise tone of what will be created in the future, here in the Leader-Ship play-field.

Impossible to be known then - but that symphony overpowered any other sound, including danger-warning sirens, bombs explosion, people’s fear, cry and poverty.

It was the prodigious, unprecedented, most unexpected sound, coming straight from the future, controversial. Just controversial as The Prodigy that came to perform in Belgrade when there was nothing but dark. And did they perform. Striking tones from the future. Premiere of Breathe. In a country that stopped its breath for a number of years.

And from that breath the field of divergent Leader-Ship came into existence. To disrupt the game.

5. BURNING BRIDGES

Around that time, as the sound of Fire-starter was blowing people's minds, Judit Polgar was becoming more and more dangerous. And she was becoming more sharp, more precise and more determined in her creative attacks. She also loved burning those bridges, playing on double or nothing.

Burning bridges and playing on double or nothing takes fire in the gut. Without having the proper mechanisms to embody that fierce, fiery, dragon-like energy, it will provoke burning the Self most of the time.

That’s another lesson from early childhood. Genius can be dangerous, and not just for others. That very struggle depicted through Bet Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit - hits too close to home.

Watching the father figure playing both games with the very same aggressive, risky, highly provoking, double or nothing style - in the game of chess it made him be ranked in top 3% of the strongest players in the world - in the game of life it made him lose quite a few.

Carrying the same gene, burning bridges has always been easy. But burning the self along the way has never been fun. Not until the complete deconstruction of that paradigm happened, did the true grand-mastery of this Leader-Ship field appeared.

Something just clicked differently and new requests started taking its rightful place.










6. THE THRILL OF THE GAME

As for the chess grand-mastery - level of chess obsession is essential, for the leadership grand-mastery - obsession with human multi-potentiality, hidden talent and geniuses bottled up in rule breakers is critical.

And that obsession, as a prerequisite of grand-mastery, is not conceived and/or groomed at universities or at the workplace. It is conceived before birth. And developed from the earliest age. It’s the same one that can burn one to the ground, if not properly trained. It’s certainly the same one that burnt this field to the ground because when it was misused.

As Judit Polgar explained, she reached that extraordinary success only because she set a prodigious goal, but it’s not the destination that was driving her, but the journey itself. Every game, every lesson, the process. Majority goes from one small destination to another as being driven by that. But for those who are obsessed with the game, it is about the thrill of the game. And for that to be possible, Judit stresses that the right support system is absolutely imperative.

And for extraordinary, futuristic, alien, pioneering leaders it is the same. Mentor who knows the feeling, the sound and the groove of that obsession with the game, coupled with a strong supportive environment.

To play chess with men requires different physical and mental readiness, along with a higher score level (to even be qualified to compete with men) than competing against women. To be a highly potent and powerful female leader in male dominated industries also requires a different approach to leadership altogether. And that’s where all the popular teachings fail the ultimate test and we are now facing the reality of having a workforce on a ship without the captain.

There is no move to be played, other than one. The most unexpected one.

7. THE UNEXPECTED MOVE IS THE CHECKMATE MOVE

The real surprise factor is how Judit Polgar smashed Kasparov, even when many men couldn’t. She decided even before the game to hunt his King down. No matter what. And that’s exactly what she did. Decisively, No Matter What, committed, focused. He didn’t see it coming. She defeated him with his own weapon (Kasparov opted for a rather unusual opening), tearing down that Berlin Wall (chosen opening) brick by brick.

For global leadership it is time for that, all or nothing approach, commitment, laser focus. Sharpness and precision. No Matter What. Because there are no other winning moves out there. And there are no other fields for playing the leadership game at grand-master level - Sapfo Groove Initiative is the only play-field that is in tune with the sound (groove and narrative and influence) of ambition, vision and mission true female trailblazers and every other rule breaker out there responds to. And the other way around. The field responds only to them. The Divergent Leader-Ship Field.

This Leader-Ship is not for many. In fact, it is for only a few. Grand-mastery requires a level of practice, perseverance, passion and surrender that is not just above average. It is a matter of decision to ride or die.


8. DOUBLE OR NOTHING CREDENTIALS

When the grand-master walks into the room, the entire atmosphere changes. Everyone knows that an ingenious player is in the room. It is a palpable sensation. All or nothing players carry certain endangerment in their masterly energy. The endangerment that for some is intimidating. For another is euphoric, initiating, activating. Because what the grand-master announces simply by entering the room is that the status quo ends then and there.

These are the players who are obsessed with the game more than they are driven by the checkmate itself. These are the ones who are taking the entire game to the next level.

In leadership, grand-master candidates have nobody to learn from. They have no direct role models. They are the role models. And who they play with and where they play is what will ultimately determine whether they will cross the threshold and reside with grand-masters. Or they will just merge with the mass and eventually disappear. Because they are not meant to reside with the masses, within the rules, they are rule breakers and new rule makers, both embodied as one.

And they are invited to come the avant-garde challengers of the global leadership training industry’s status quo:

There are trainers educated and specialized for coaching top executives, grand-master candidates. Their credentials, among different tools and methods they are certified for, showcase statistics with more than 15 years of experience and more than 2000 hours of coaching, ranking them as highly skilled.

And there are those who, after spending a career in executive roles, become advisors and mentors to the chosen, younger executives.

And then, there are self paced, one size fits all, courses on leadership for masses.

The status quo worth of $160 Billion, spent on employee training and education in the U.S. alone.

Because no matter how impressive numbers are reported back on typical leadership metrics - increased sales, productivity and efficiency, high engagement, enablement, empowerment and encouragement scores, no matter the awards on company’s culture or testimonials about newly built resiliency, regained clarity or re-calibrated focus, while up-leveling communication and people skills - it’s all an illusion.

Illusion that the world has the right tools and right systems to lead progress, development and self actualization that are necessary for the Future of Work.

The fact is that only 47% of critical roles can be filled with current leaders today.

In simple terms: No captain on this Leader-Ship. Not for now. Not for the future.

Only 10% of CEO's believe their company’s leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact. 77% of CEO's say that developing the next generation of leaders is their top challenge.

63% of Millennial's said their leadership skills were not being fully developed for now, while only 28% of leaders are being developed at all in critical skills for the future.

Again: No captain on this Leader-Ship. Not for now. Not for the future.

When there is a crisis of this level, what’s not true must be exposed and dismantled, the Leader-Ship must be deconstructed and a new field must be constructed. From fragments of the past that are contained in existing praxis that actually work and fragments of the future that are contained in wisdom of a divergent leader with an access to what is to come.

Conclusion: With no captain on the Leader-Ship, there is no one to course correct. The only ones who have the courage and the vision to take over are true disruptors, the divergent thinkers, rule breakers, multipotentialites, misfits. Because they have already been in the outskirts for so long.

Evidence of misfits’ grand-mastery is all around us. Loudest examples prove that - despite the scarcity (today <1% of UK venture funding is awarded to all-female founded teams), research shows that investment in female-founded startups performs 63% better than exclusively male-founded startups.

Speaking of number 1, only 1% of corporate managers in the United States have dyslexia. At the same time 33% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic. And not only that, but 44% of self made millionaires are dyslexic as well.

This crisis is uncharted territory, in the middle of the gap, the void, the unknown. And it is only for players with double or nothing credentials. For those whose minds, souls and bodies have already been sharpened for the cutting edge walk.









9. THE CHECKMATE