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3 Things Law Students And Young Lawyers Can Learn From A Chess Grandmaster

The year was 1996. Garry Kasparov, already a chess Grandmaster and world champion, was about to take on Deep Blue—an IBM supercomputer created for the sole purpose of defeating Kasparov—in a six game chess match. Why? Because no person was good enough to beat Kasparov. After losing the first game, Kasparov won four before dropping the sixth, defeating Deep Blue four games to two. A year later, IBM came back with an upgraded Deep Blue that defeated Kasparov. The Grandmaster alleged IBM cheated and demanded a rematch but IBM retired Deep Blue.
Fast forward nearly two decades and you could find Kasparov giving the commencement address at St. Louis University School of Law. As to be expected from someone who is incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and disciplined, he had some very pertinent advice for law students, recent grads, and, well, anyone. Below are three main takeaways from Kasparov’s address.
First, hard work is a talent. Kasparov makes the point that chess players and athletes alike are often classified in two categories—the talented and hard working. Many are talented. Many are hard working. Few are talented and hard working. “This is a fallacy,” Kasparov said. “Hard work is a talent. The ability to keep trying when others quit is a talent.” There are certain things we can’t change—like our DNA and IQ. There are other things we absolutely can change—like our attitude, resiliency, and persistence. That’s what Kasparov means by being talented at hard work.
Next, Kasparov encouraged listeners to hold fast to values. “We can fight for our values or we can trade them away for comfort and temporary security,” he said. Despite all of the stereotypes of the Millennial generation being “entitled,” slow to leave the nest, and lazy, they do have two things going for them: strong values of acceptance and an instinct to look out for one another. No other generation is as racially tolerant or puts in as many volunteer hours. Those are good values. Kasparov says to hold onto them.
Finally, Kasparov warned his audience not to settle for “good enough.” That is, keep pushing, taking risks, and striving for adventure. He used the ground he was standing on as an example. “St. Louis was once the beginning of the unknown, the gateway to the frontier,” he said. And he’s right. The courage of early pioneers and settlers to not settle for good enough led to a strong and diverse nation with beauty, wonder, and prosperity. The same can be achieved for a person who doesn’t settle.
Source: Above The Law

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