In Episode 36, we continue our Offseason Talks series with our host, Phil Darke, talking about the life and leadership lessons he learned from the movie, “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” We all have a lot to learn from this movie about chess, as it...
In Episode 36, we continue our Offseason Talks series with our host, Phil Darke, talking about the life and leadership lessons he learned from the movie, “Searching for Bobby Fischer.” We all have a lot to learn from this movie about chess, as it speaks directly to our coaching, parenting, marriages, and other relationships, and also gives us a practical application for the first three offseason talks.
Resources and Links from this Episode
Phil: [00:00:00] Welcome back to How Soccer Explains Leadership. Thanks again for taking the time to be a part of this show. I'm Phil Darke, you're a host. And as I've talked about the last couple episodes we are doing some off season talks between season three and season four with our interviews, which is the normal thing that we do, Paul Jobson and I have some conversations here and there, here he is my cohost. Um, but most of the time we have interviews on this show. We decided to do things a little differently over the last few weeks and do these off season talks, which are just things that Paul and I are thinking about that we want to share with you, things that I'm working on and Paul's working on that we're really wanting to help others to flourish.
It's what we do. We're wanting to help make good things better. That's what we love doing as well. So that's what we're really doing with these off season talks. So I had some ideas to do the first three episodes we've done on know your, why we did on the disc and the importance of that as well [00:01:00] as mentors. And who are you listening to?
Three things that I know are very important to connecting with people. Very important with leadership, very important in soccer and every area of life. Today, I was going to do something and last night I watched a movie that changed, really the plan for this episode. So that movie is Searching for Bobby Fischer.
I watched this movie with my wife and my two youngest kids, and I strongly, strongly recommend this movie. It's made in the early nineties, probably mid nineties, just a fantastic movie about, uh, Josh Waitzkin, he's a chess prodigy, and a lot of people were, thinking he was the next Bobby Fischer.
And so they were really thinking maybe we need to train him up. And the coach, his coach thought we need to train him up. His dad and mom were excited about him being a really good chess player. The story is about them trying to form him into this great chess player, but the kid just wanted to be a [00:02:00] kid.
So I think there's so many lessons we can learn from this. And I wanted to walk through some of those lessons that are so relevant to the world of soccer, but also to really anything for parents out there. For bosses, for coaches. To understand that we're not trying to shape our kids that are in our care, whether it's as a coach or as a parent or as a teacher, we're not trying to shape them into little Messi's or little Bill Gates', or little whoever named the person that you're trying to, to emulate.
You're not trying to be them. You're trying to be the best version of whoever you are created to be. This is very different. So there are things and lessons and tips we can take from people's lives, but to not try to be them is such a critical thing. And so that's really what we're going to talk about today using this great movie as really the launching pad for some of this conversation.
So the first thing, [00:03:00] you know, I, I just want to say there will be some spoilers not going to spoil the whole thing for you. Cause I do want you to go out and watch it, but there will be some things that you'll see throughout. So if you just are a purist and you want to see this movie without hearing anything, then, uh, go for it.
But, and I strongly encourage you to do so then come back and listen to this. But if you want to hear some things that, then when you go watch it, hopefully you'll be thinking about some of these things. Let's do that. So we're going to get right to it. So, as I said, this is a true story based on a true story, that Josh Waitzkin and the relationship with his father, his relationship with his coach.
and this is a kid who never played chess. He hadn't watched any movies about it. Hadn't read books on it. He just saw it being played in the park. in the movie, it portrays it right after his birthday party. I don't know exactly how it happened, but he saw the chess game being played and he was just captured by it for some reason.
But what happened was he started playing this game and he loved it. And he had his own way of playing. He was [00:04:00] innovative. He was a, he loved to attack. He loved to just do things that weren't the conventional wisdom, because he didn't even know the conventional wisdom existed. He didn't even know there was a book to play by.
So he definitely did not play by the book, reminds us of some of these kids that we see playing soccer. Some of these kids, we see playing other sports and they're just naturally say that just kid is just a natural. And they're just doing things with the ball that we never have seen done before. I imagine that what that's, what it was like to watch Pele playing when he was just playing as a kid. Or Messi, um, Ro naldo, as they're trying these things .
Johan Cruyff who, uh, you know, these moves are named after these people. Well, those moves, obviously didn't exist before those people were just creative and people weren't telling them, no you're supposed to do it this way. You're supposed to do it that way. They were just doing things because that's what they did.
That's what they wanted to do. That's what was just in their mind. And they were creative and no one was stifling that creativity with them. No one was telling him, no, you're supposed to [00:05:00] do a scissor move instead of what you're doing there. The Maradona, the Ronaldo, whatever, these different things that are these moves, you know, I think that what we're doing when we're teaching these kids these moves is we're actually stifling creativity.
So that's something that I saw in this movie because as this kid got better and better, and as this kid started playing, his dad goes, oh, now I need to go get him a coach. Does that sound familiar? You need to give him a personal trainer. I need to get him somebody who can hone his skill, which isn't a bad thing in and of itself.
But when he went to that coach, it appeared that the coach got it at first, where he just ended up playing board games with him. And he started, you know, talking to him about baseball and talking to him about his other interests. But as he saw that this kid had this promise, he said, Ooh, now I got to teach him how to play like Bobby Fischer. I got to teach him how to play like the best. And I got to take that innovation and that attacking style out of him, he kept saying, don't bring the queen out too early, but Josh loved bringing the queen out early. It's just what he [00:06:00] did. He was an attack minded and this guy said that doesn't work.
You're going to get beat doing that. So he tried to make him into this someone he wasn't. Well, in the first episode, we talked about knowing your why, really knowing who you are, the second talking about the DISC and knowing how you're wired. This Josh Waitzkin kid was playing because he loved the game.
That was his why he wasn't playing to be a grand master to be a chess champion. He was playing because he loved the game. Yeah. He loved to win, but that wasn't his problem. There were moments of the movie where that became very clear. He was clearly a reserved kid, a sweet kid, probably an S/C or a C/S if you know the DISC, but really reserved.
He obviously had the detail with the, with the chess to be able to read moves and all that stuff that was naturally in his brain, but he was also kind and good. And there was a point in the movie where his coach said to him, if you really want to be a champion, You have to actually have contempt for the players you're playing against.
And it was so [00:07:00] poignant because the kid said, but I don't want to. And then he said, the coach said, you have to hate your opponents. And he looked at his coach and he said, but I don't. And it was so poignant because. That's what the world says we have to do. Sometimes we have to hate people. We have to win.
We have to want to do things. And there are people, if you're an S personality, you saying no, and it, it bucks against everything you're wired to do. The reality is you don't have to do that. You can be who you are, you just might not get it, whatever they think you're supposed to get. And so what happens so often when we do this as coaches and we do this as bosses, and we do this as parents sometimes.
We basically, as we're training up these kids, we are really wanting, trying to make them into the people that we want them to be. Not the people that God created them to be. We're not [00:08:00] trying to make them the best version of what and who they're created to be. We're saying, here's what we want you to be and here's what we think you should be. And I'm going to try to make you into that. And that goes back to what we talked about with the mentors, who are you listening to? Who are you listening to? That's who you trust. That is who is going to be able to help you mold you and shape you and hone you. And if they have their own interests in mind and they're their own ulterior motives, It may line up with who you're created to be and what you want, but it may not. And so these are things that for you to know your why is so important. So you can put it through the filter. When you have a mentor, you can put it through the filter of your why. They don't know your why they don't take the time to care and know about your why, I would be very wary about having them as a mentor.
If they aren't helping you to hone your why I'd be very wary of that. And what you saw in [00:09:00] this movie is this kid that was so good at chess, and there were different people in his life telling him different things. In the movie, at least they portray him as well beyond his years. When we talk about specialization on this podcast, a lot in specializing just on soccer or just on another sport or just on one area. In this instance, just on chess, people were saying, you have to focus on chess.
You can't play baseball. Well, this kid had a dream to play second base for the Yankees. His dad was a broadcaster for the Yankees. That's something that he had a dream to be able to do that. Now, maybe it happened, maybe it didn't, it doesn't matter. Fact is if you tell this kid who's really good at chess, you can't do this other thing, even though he loves it, even though it's part of who he is, you're not taking into account who these people are, who they're are, how they're wired.
If we're doing something because we feel we're good at it. And therefore, where we can't do all these other things, we're robbing ourselves of that joy that can come from it. We're robbing ourselves of really the creativity that can come from doing these other things. [00:10:00] My son became a better soccer player because he played basketball.
He had to think quicker. He had to make quicker movements, different skills taught there. It also really helps you to avoid injury, to play other sports. That's a whole different conversation. I talked a little bit about that with Cori Close and a few other people on this show, but if we're making our kids play year round one sport, you can't play other sports.
If you play other sports, you're off this team, we're doing them such a massive disservice. When I was a kid, we had seasons. We didn't have the opportunity or the option to play all this, all these different things year round. I played basketball and I played baseball and I played soccer. I did track, I played football. Loved them all.
And intramurals in college. Absolutely loved playing all these different things and different skills and different sports will teach you different things. In these other sports. Most of the best players, the best athletes were three sport athlete. Urban Meyer one year at Ohio state, 93% of [00:11:00] his players were three sport athletes.
Well with this kid, he, again, he was mature beyond his years and he's like, I want to play all these other things. I want to do all these other things. I don't want to change who I am. I don't want to hate these people because I don't hate them. And there were some so amazing moments in that movie that I don't want to ruin for you.
That show that he actually had a heart and coaches wanted to take that heart out of him when he was. But when you do that, you take away the genius that comes with the kid. You take away who they are, which is a big part of how they play. And if we're doing that, we're not only ruining the player; we're potentially ruining the person.
I hope that we're bigger than that and we're better than that. I hope that we're seeing that we as coaches, we as bosses, we have parents have stewardship over these lives. We have an opportunity to be, to be able to develop them to be the best version of themselves. They can be. We have the ability to [00:12:00] use these different tools.
And I'm not saying to not teach him some of the things that Bobby Fischer did. I'm not saying to not tell him the here's some of these things that will make you a better player, but to try to force it on him and take away the genius that makes him who he is is doesn't work and it will hurt. It will likely lead to burnout.
And like I said, ruining that, that kid maybe they'll win some tournaments, but if you look at the actual Bobby Fischer, he went nuts. He actually disappeared. The stress, whatever it was, he disappeared for years and years. That's why it's called Searching for Bobby Fischer. He resurfaced played a match and then basically retired forever because too much stress. Too much pressure.
So I say all this to say, look, we need to know our why. We need to know how we're wired. We need to really surround ourselves with people who understand that and want to help us become [00:13:00] that best version of ourselves. To challenge us, to shape us, to sharpen us. Not to sharpen us into something else or somebody else. When we're trying to play, don't try to be somebody else when we're trying to be public speakers or whatever, don't try to be a different speaker, take what they're, what they have and molded it into who you are. Bring it into who you are, take the good of that and bringing it into who you are and be that great.
I need to be the great, the greatest version of Phil Darke I can be. You need to be the greatest version of you you can be.. We can emulate others in certain ways but if we try to be them, we'll be a really bad facsimile of them. Will be a really bad copy of them because it's not us. I think of American Idol, as I say that, and you hear them saying that was just a karaoke version of the song.
You didn't make it your own. How are you making these different things your own? Don't just do a Maradona; do a Maradona as you do it. Maybe it's a little [00:14:00] different. And when people laugh and say, oh, you didn't do it right. Maybe you didn't or maybe you just created a new move that's yours.
So again, I didn't expect this movie to turn into an episode, but it did. And it actually made a huge impact on my son too. Who's 10 years old. He was actually yelling at him, the TV yelling at the dad. He's like, dad, just let the kid play like he wants to play. My ten-year-old taught me a lesson. And I imagine your kids.
I imagine the employees under your watch. I imagine the players under your watch are saying the same thing. Sometimes just let me play. Don't try to stifle me into this box that you want me to be in. Just let me play. Just let me be who I am. Don't try to make me into something I'm not. The mom said, at one point in the movie, she said, he's not soft.
He just cares. [00:15:00] We need to know that about our players. Just cause they're kind and sweet and they care. It doesn't make them soft. We don't need to turn them into a heartless person. Who's just going to go and win at all costs. No, we need to help them be the best teammates they can be and they can be incredible teammates as we talked about in the DISC episode.
So I'm going to stop here. There's so much more I can say. Absolutely love this movie. Didn't expect it to be an episode, an off season talk, but it was. So go out, check it out. Hope you took from this some of these lessons that I did.
And I also hope that you're taking what you're learning from the show and you're using it to, to help you be a better leader. using it to help you to be able to shape and hone and sharpen your players. As we talked about in today's episode, that you're using this to [00:16:00] help challenge you to be better in all areas of your life.
And as I've said in these other episodes, you know, Paul and Marci Jobson, they've created this Warrior Way program for kids that's teaching them character, teaching them different things through this beautiful game. I have DISC training. If you're interested in that, send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love to hop on a call with you and talk about what would be a right fit for you. Working on Coaching the Bigger Game, which is exactly what we're talking about today. That's going to be a curriculum and a mastermind program. If you have any interest in any of that, send me an email, but as always with all that we're doing here, I hope that you're taking all of it.
You're using it in all these areas of your life to help you be a better leader, a better person, a better parent, a better spouse. And you're also taking all that you're learning from this show [00:17:00] and you're using it to help you really remember and understand that soccer does explain life and leadership.
Thanks a lot. Have a great week.