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Traditional rhetoric dictates that the path to success requires hard work and hustle, endless hours devoted to mastering your craft and an obsession with developing a winning strategy to beat your competition.
That’s not to say success doesn’t come without work, but there are subtleties weaved in the show’s script that points to a different way of achieving success — a more feminine way — that we need to glamorize.
I watched The Queen’s Gambit within the first 28 days of its availability, along with 62 million other households. The lead, Beth Harmon, is a female chess prodigy dominating in a man’s sport. Harmon’s road to success in the chess world doesn’t come without its challenges — being orphaned at a young age, drug addiction and alcohol addiction to name a few.
Regardless of the challenges she experienced, Harmon didn’t achieve success solely through her overachieving tendencies and obsession with winning. In fact, there are four key things I noticed that don’t get as much attention in the entrepreneurial space as they should.
1. The power of your intuition
Using your intuition isn’t often taught as a strategy in the business world. We tend to learn to make most of our entrepreneurial decisions from a brain-based perspective. But success isn’t just about mastering your craft through studying and working hard. It isn’t something you “think” your way to achieving. Yes, using your brain is needed. But using your intuition is equally powerful. I loved that Harmon’s adopted mom mentioned this to her while she was stressing about the mistakes she made that cost her the game.
Harmon tended to experience failure when her opponents surprised her with a move she wasn’t expecting. In those games, she focused on making the right moves based on the strategies she studied. This affected her ability to pivot when things weren’t going her way. Harmon dominated her opponents when she used her intuition along with strategy.
When we focus on thinking hard about achieving success in our business, we tend to dismiss our inner guidance. This results in us having blinders on and doesn’t allow us to stay nimble if things aren’t going as planned.
Here’s the thing with entrepreneurship: There is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving success. There are so many different business strategies you can use. The truth of the matter is that it boils down to what is the right path for you. The only way to know that is by staying open to receiving intuitive inspiration and letting go of the idea that logic is the only path to success.
2. The need for rest
Striving to achieve success is ingrained in most entrepreneurs’ DNA, but it tends to lead most of us to workaholism. We live in a culture that praises this work ethic, and saw this in The Queen’s Gambit. Harmon spent every waking and sleeping moment perfecting her game. It’s the adage that you must work and hustle hard to achieve success because your endless devotion is the only way to do it.
But at what cost? The masculine-driven approach is grounded in the energy to prove your value and worth to the world, and it’s the reason most entrepreneurs operate from a state of burnout. It might not happen right away, but working at full tilt for long periods isn’t sustainable.
Again, it was Harmon’s adopted mom that pointed this out. She noticed her daughter obsessing over winning to a point it was impacting her game. She urged Harmon to “get out and see things.” In those moments where you step away, you can show up as your best self. It’s in the pausing and silence where you invite inspiration and innovative ideas to form.
3. Fostering resiliency is vital
Entrepreneurial success doesn’t come without obstacles, so it takes a certain level of emotional mastery to navigate the entrepreneurial journey.
For Beth, she was orphaned at a young age and experienced a lot of trauma. One might argue that Harmon coped in an unhealthy way, but she demonstrated resiliency given everything she faced.
Resiliency isn’t something discussed in The Queen’s Gambit — it’s something observed. Most entrepreneurs give up or quit without it because they can’t handle the failure, judgment and rejection. Fostering resiliency is a trait all entrepreneurs need to prioritize. Resiliency allows entrepreneurs to surrender to the process and bounce back quickly after failing.
4. Stay in your lane, focus on your game
The desire to succeed is often done by looking outside of ourselves to see what the competition is doing. It’s that striving, chasing energy that most of us are far too accustomed to as entrepreneurs.
Harmon was guilty of this too. While competing in Russia, she spied on her opponents to try to get the upper hand. But with the support of her team, they encouraged her to focus on her own game. When we focus on our competition or on what everyone else is doing, we lose sight of what we do well — this lack of focus results in bad decisions, misdirection or rushing things to market. It’s also why some of us operate out of alignment because we’re trying to rush to get things done before others in the industry.