PMNC 2017 : Keynotes : The Struggles And Triumphs Of A Champion
PMNC 2017

The Chennai boy who became the toast of the country in his youth and continues to be the foremost name in chess in India had some handy tips for project managers. Speaking from his experiences in playing at high-pressure world tournaments, Vishwanathan Anand stressed on the importance of being positive, focused, and motivated, to be a champion. In 1985 when he set his sights on the Grandmaster title, he had to fight not just battles on the chessboard but a psychological warfare – often with himself.

“Back in those days, being a Grandmaster was like winning an Olympic gold today. We felt anyone with a Russian-sounding name was better than us in chess.
There was a huge psychological barrier to cross,” said Mr. Anand. During that time, he kept missing the title by small margins. And then a coach advised him to not keep thinking of the half a point that he missed, and said that if he was strong enough, he would cross the barrier easily. Mr. Anand then decided to give chess a break for three months to study for his 12th grade board exams.

“When I came back to chess, there were some more disappointments. And then I became the first Asian to win the World Junior Championship – and like predicted, I became a Grandmaster by a comfortable margin,” he recalled. Some lessons from his long and successful career: winning is the best feedback; no amount of motivation is good enough; once you’ve reached your goal, recalibrate your targets and aim for something new; self-awareness is important, but sometimes step back and don’t over-think; when you lack certain strengths, build a team of people who have those strengths and work on them together; take risks; and keep learning.