Actress Lupita Nyong’o poses with actor David Oyeloeo as they arrive for the premiere of Disney’s “Queen of Katwe” in Hollywood. Lupita acted as Phiona’s mother. PHOTO | AFP
Two important lessons from the movie Queen of Katwe
It’s the small things that matter, done well, they add up to bigger things.
Disney has a way of creating films about a specific topic but then making you reflect on how to change your own life based on the lessons learned.
Being an avid chess player meant that I had to tag my whole family to go and watch The Queen of Katwe.
Based on a true story, Queen of Katwe follows the life of Ugandan chess champion Phiona Mutesi (Madina Nalwanga) as she discovers the game that will change the way she experiences the world.
It is a story of fierce determination, overcoming odds and absolute triumph. The movie moved us, entertained us and even sparked our interest in playing chess.
What I loved most about this film was the incredibly important messages that were so brilliantly interwoven through the teachings of the game of chess. I will share two with you today. The power of executing small decisions.
The first lesson has to do with objective setting. The objective of chess is to capture your opponent’s king. That sounds easy enough.
But as early as the first move, you quickly realise that knowing and understanding the ultimate goal of the game doesn’t help you make your first move.
That is where intermediate and short-term goals come in. Long-term goals must be broken down into smaller goals if they are going to help us make sound decisions.
When I began playing chess, the loss of a pawn didn’t seem like that big a deal. After all, it’s just a lousy pawn. Was I wrong? The loss of a single pawn didn’t mean the loss of the game. More importantly for our purposes, it turns out that pawns are deceptively powerful.
True, they only move one square per move. But given enough time, pawns can turn into queens, rooks, knights or bishops.
If you can push your pawn to the other side of the board, it can become any piece you choose (other than a pawn or king, of course). That reminded me of the small, monthly investments we can make. Given enough time, they turn into something truly remarkable.
When it comes to finances, small, incremental steps in finances can do the same thing. Even Sh100 per month invested in a well-diversified portfolio will grow into a substantial sum given enough time.
Likewise, spending just a little more than you make, left on credit cards each month, will “snowball” into a mountain of debt.
The point is-the little things matter! Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves. The trick is that you have to be consistent. You have to do a little bit more every day. You have to make slightly smarter decisions every time.
The chess player that only plans one shot at a time will always lose to the player that plans every shot before they take their first.
The same is true for life and even personal finance. Those that only live for today will never see the riches that await the long-term planners.
The short-term planners will often talk about a hot new deal or a business venture that sounds too good to be true. These individuals are looking to strike it rich overnight and can only see the opportunities that are right in front of their face. When they fail, they just bounce off the rail and find the next one.
The long-term thinkers do not succumb to the pressures of “get rich quick” schemes because they already have their plan mapped out for the future. They have the end in mind and can see the whole picture much more clearly.
Look two or three “moves” ahead and decide if your actions today will either help or harm your financial future. But life being life, sometimes the ball will drop. If it is in a game of chess, we call it “to tip your king,” It is an acceptance of defeat.
In the movie, Oyelowo’s character scolds Phiona for giving up too quickly and to which, “Phiona replies,” Why not? When you’re going to get beaten anyway?” The two share a very inspiring moment and a reminder to us all to never surrender.
These are only two of the truly inspiring messages you’ll take away from this movie. In addition, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you will dance.
There’s a song in the movie called The number 1 Spice that has officially become our family jam! Who doesn’t want to do that?
Mr Waswa is a management and HR specialist and managing director of Outdoors Africa. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.