#1757 Don't Cheat Yourself

Do What You Say You Will Do

As we’ve discussed many (many!) times, Emerson’s passion for chess has given us an extraordinary opportunity to connect on both the all-boys trips AND on these Heroic ideas you and I are talking about every day.


As we’ve ALSO discussed, Emerson recently took his game to the next level after losing to a tiny little 9-year-old boy who happens to be one of the best 9-year-old players in the country.

One of the things I most admire about Emerson is the speed with which he turns a loss into a learning-win.

After that loss to a tactically superior kid, he KNEW it was time for him to focus on doing what his coach had been encouraging him to do for months—slowing down and solving puzzles.

A little more context setting for Today’s +1 then we’ll get to work…

Emerson is now on Day 75 of doing one hour of puzzles on a site called Chesstempo.com along with maybe 60 days of 30 minutes of puzzle work in a book called Calculation: Grandmaster Preparation.

For those puzzles in the book, he sets the pieces up on the board on his desk and then tries to figure out what a Grandmaster would have done/should have done in that situation.

It’s amazing to watch him do the online and offline puzzles.

Target swipe: “Watch Emerson Play Chess!” 🎯

(Note: I’ve hit that Heroic Target 220 times.)

For the online puzzles, he’s not allowed to move until he’s thought about the right move for at least THREE minutes—which is part of how he and his coach are working on slowing him down so he has deep calculation skills to go with his speed is a force (haha!) intuitive skills.


I’m doing Deep Work the other day when Emerson busts into my office Kramer style with all the enthusiasm I so love.

He says: “Daddy!! If Nick and I have already gone through a puzzle, do I have to go through all of it again or can I just quickly look at it and then go to the next one?”

Before I can answer, he Kramer’s out of my office as he tells me: “Oh, shoot! I forgot to stop my timer!!!”


I got tears in my eyes typing that and I got tears in my eyes when he told me that.

A little more context…

Chesstempo automatically calculates how long he’s tried solving puzzles for the day. He hits an hour EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

For the puzzle book work, he needs to track his time by himself. He does that by using the chess clock we have that we set to 30 minutes. He starts it. When the 30 minutes is up, he’s done.



Emerson left the 30-minute clock running when he came in to ask me that question.


He was SO COMMITTED to making sure he did ALL 30 minutes of pure training that he RACED OUT OF MY OFFICE to stop the clock from ticking while we discussed his question.

(I got tears in my eyes again typing that.)


When he came back into the office, I told him that it’s fine if he quickly reviews a puzzle he and his coach have already gone through to make sure he gets it.

Then I got down on my knee so I could look him in the eye and told him that I wanted him to listen closely to what I was going to say.

Then I told him how much I admired the fact that he raced out of my office to stop the clock to MAKE SURE he was honoring his commitment of doing 30 minutes of solid training.

Then I said: “You know who you would be cheating if you let the clock run and didn’t do the things you said you would do?”

He thought about it for a moment as he crunched up his face and said… “Who?”

I said: “You’d be cheating YOURSELF.”

He said, with the innocence of a preciously (and precociously!) wise little boy: “Why would I EVER cheat MYSELF?!”

Once again, I got tears typing that.


That, my dear Heroic friend, is Today’s +1.

Who are you at your best?

What, specifically, does that best, most Heroic version of you DO to show up as your best so you can give us all you’ve got?

Know thyself.



Do what you say you will do.

All day. Every day.



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