My Favorite Quote from The Queen’s Gambit

November 22, 2020

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

The Queen’s Gambit is a remarkable limited series on Netflix. It follows the fictional story of Beth Harmon, a chess prodigy with a complicated personal life. At the beginning of many episodes, we see intimate scenes of Beth’s mom consoling her and giving her advice. Presumably, these lessons help form Beth’s personality and perspective as she matures.

Episode 5, “Fork”, begins with a dark scene of Beth’s mom giving her young daughter advice. She says:

Dark’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, I’d go as far as saying there’s nothing to be afraid of, anywhere. The strongest person is the person who isn’t scared to be alone. It’s other people you’ve got to worry about. Other people. They’ll tell you what to do, how to feel…before you know it, you’re pouring your life out in search of something other people told you to look for.

It’s a rather misanthropic message, but one I think is very real. In the context of Beth, who is disrupting the male-dominated world of chess, it’s perfect. She’s doing exactly what she wants, doubters be damned.

I think many people find themselves doing what Beth’s mom warned about: “pouring your life out in search of something other people told you to look for.” There is no shortage of advice about how to build or run a business. There are too many “supposed to’s” and “right ways”. The key to building a business that’s Big Enough is recognizing what you’re looking for, despite the expectations of others.

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