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© 2017 by Latanya Muhammad with WIX. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and/ or written permission from the website's author and/or owner is prohibited.  Material may be used, provided full and clear credit is given to Latanya Muhammad with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Checkers And A Life Lesson

February 6, 2018

When I was around seven years old, my grandfather (Pop is what I liked to call him) asked me if I wanted to play him in a game of checkers.  I do not think, up to that point, that I had actually played the game.  But he was well versed in it.  He would play on the front porch with his friend Mr. Austin while we grandkids would watch.  I don’t know about my brothers or cousins, but I always wanted to play.  Maybe the kid in me wanted to have a turn too.  So, when my grandfather asked if I wanted to play I was excited.  Pop was everything a southern born man could be.  He was hardworking, had no time for nonsense, and very much so the strong silent type.  And maybe those are the reasons why I was surprised he asked me to play. 


I sat down, and he set up the board.  I don’t know why I thought it, but at seven, I figured this was going to be a teaching moment.  A moment for my grandfather to explain the game.  We started moving pieces.  And little by little, I watched mine disappear.  Now, I didn’t know checkers that well, but even I realized I was losing.  When the game was over, my grandfather just looked at me.  As if to say, “Better luck next time kid.”  I got up from the table feeling a little defeated.  I thought to myself, “He didn’t let me win.”  As I grew up, the thought became, “Why should he have let me win?”  Exactly what would that have done? How would that have helped me?


I didn’t see the lesson at seven, nor did I realize a lesson even existed.   That game of checkers with my grandfather taught me one of my biggest life lessons: no one is going to take it easy on you just because you're at a disadvantage.  My grandfather, in that moment, would have done more harm than good if he had let me win.  I might have walked away from that table with a false sense of achievement.  I would have walked away thinking people in general will always consider my feelings, or will walk me through everything that is new so that I can win at their expense.  That just isn’t life.  Sometimes we have to fail in order to learn.  If I didn’t lose that game I would not have learned to be cautious, in terms of the moves I make, and the moves of others.  That approach is not just a game strategy, but a life strategy.  At seven, my loss was just part of a game.  But in life, that loss became the foundation for which attention and patience were fundamental pieces in how to achieve.  


If my grandfather were still living, I would have loved to say to him, "Hats off to you Pop, for teaching a lesson in the simplest way.  No words, just action.  




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