Life is like a game. Like … football, or chess?

How to make a life strategy based on your natural playing style.

Zac Grace
5 min readJan 5, 2020


The hype of the hour is in taking a leap, pushing beyond your comfort zone, to charge into the unknown and conquer! Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and so many other titans of today who wield the kind of success that the great conquerors once did all seem to have done this. To push on to uncharted territory. But is that for everybody? Do we have to do it in order to be successful in today’s world, or is it just the way the wind is blowing these days?

Let us explore this by considering the analogy that life is a game. But what game though? Is it more like football? Or maybe chess? Or maybe another game? Is it a different sport for each man and woman?

Some people are simply natural defenders.

Let us begin this train of thought by comparing life to football. Some people are simply natural defenders. They are excellent at holding their ground and not letting the ball get past them. Is it fair or prudent to ask them to go play forward?

While talented sportsmen may learn to be adept at all positions, it is wasteful to ignore our deeply engraved instincts. After all, the human brain is a product of millions of years of evolution, and it is the greatest tool we have. It would be stupid to ignore what it is telling us. So, would a natural defender be not better at life by staying where he is, protecting what he loves and fortifying his position?

The answers to the greatest questions of life might be hidden in the little things we do.

But what if you don’t play football? How do you extend this analogy to someone who plays…say, chess. It is similar. While there are hundreds of strategies in chess, some of them are very defensive, some very offensive, and some a combination of both. The answers to the greatest questions of life might be hidden in the little things we do. The answer to how each of us can succeed in our life might be in the way we approach something as simple as a board game.

Want to take it even further? To something more hands on, where you can analyze your instincts and natural reactions at a primal, closer level? Try martial arts or fencing. How do you behave when you spar? Do you build an impenetrable guard? Or do you go at your opponent with endless combinations? How do you behave against a better opponent, who forces you to call on your true nature? You might find an answer there.

One common trait of all these games, if you noticed, is that all of these have a clear, obvious opponent. Not so true in life.

No! Unfortunately, life is not so clearly defined with marked boundary lines, a clear scoring system, or an opponent to bring down. The rules keep changing. Your teammates change mid-game. The judges are unknown. Considering all of this, life and games seem to be as similar as a cloud and chocolate. But that is not to say there is no merit in the analysis. The point of this comparison is not to map connections between games and life. But rather to consider what games might teach us about life in general, and our own life on a personal level.

We have to believe that our fates depend more on our efforts than a random toss of the dice.

Adding in the unpredictability of life, a game that seems a better fit might be one that has rarely a place in a serious discussion of any sort. The snake and ladder. The unexpected rises, the devastating falls, the feeling of the race. All elements of life. But no, we have to believe that our fates depend more on our efforts than a random toss of the dice. There is no point to the hustle if we don’t believe that.

But what we can glean from all of this is that each of these games can teach us something about ourselves. The way we choose to play it, the strategies that makes us feel happy while we’re playing. The playing styles that bring us success more often. These are all lessons to be taken and emulated in life.

If you are a naturally defensive chess player, you might be well served fortifying your side than forcing yourselves to move your pieces ‘out of your comfort zone’, just because they say life begins outside that zone. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t really like parties, it may be better to not go to parties, regardless of what anybody may think.

But it is worth mentioning here that a bowler might also be a talented batsman. You don’t know if you would enjoy parties unless you try it out a few times. After that if you decide it is not for you, fair enough!

The people encouraging you to get out of your comfort zone aren’t necessarily wrong. But no one is saying you have to like what you find outside of it. If you don’t, come back to your zone. Life is too short to spent too much time in places that make you uncomfortable simply because bloggers and vloggers say that is the path to success.

If you are a defender, figure out a way to use that to your advantage in life. We were each born with these individual, unique traits. Life is not long enough for us to learn something totally alien to our nature and then succeed at that. And that some others found success by walking one path is no reason for you to tread that path.

The choice that comes naturally for you is the choice that is right for you.

The path that you will have the best chance at is written in your genetic code. It is in the small decisions we take. It is in whether you let someone overtake you on a busy road, or not. It is in whether you choose a busy shortcut or an empty long route. Neither is wrong. The choice that comes naturally for you is the choice that is right for you. Let us not ignore the great advantage we have in our natural instincts.

And if you want to explore your nature, try games. Try different kind of games, or sports. The ones with an opponent, the ones where you race against time. The ones where fortune plays a role, and the long games of wits and strategy. Leverage the frame of contest provided by games, and discover the best strategy for your life. Do it without losing time trying out the paths that worked for somebody else.

Learn you. Be you.



Zac Grace

I write and I code. In love with our beautiful world.