2011-12-21 / Business


Steven Wallace Steven Wallace PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: During August 1990, I learned how to play the game of chess. I was a terrible player when I first started. To make it worse, most of the guys that I played against had years of chess experience under their belts. I bet I lost the first 20 games I played. If I was the quitting type, I would have given up.

All these years later, I am so glad I did not. Why? Because the lessons I learned playing chess have made me a better player at the game of life.

A Chinese proverb states, “Life is like a game of chess, changing with each move.” Blaise Pascal goes on to say, “Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.” Another chess great boldly stated, “Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.”

I agree with all of them.

Playing chess is not about chance. It is methodically executing your strategy while adapting to the adversity of another player trying to do the same. Players must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each piece on the board.

Good players know how to use several pieces together; exceptional players navigate their pieces six or seven moves ahead in their minds. Chess masters are lifelong players that continue to define the game through intellect and strategy … they are never satisfied with status quo.

Entrepreneurs are a lot like chess players: being successful is a deliberate, willful choice that requires work and dedication. Some would even say passion.

Lots of people say they want to own their own business, yet many quit when the first losses come. Instead of working on learning how to be a better business professional, they limp along and are content being mediocre. Worse yet, some folks think they don’t need anyone else to be successful; it is all about them. Not successful entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurs keep on looking for ways to win. They take the time to learn the skills necessary to make their business work. They also spend a lot of upfront time learning how they fit in with and complement the other pieces around them in the business community. They surround themselves with like-minded, positive people. They become the success stories they want to be.

Most importantly, entrepreneurs implement the strategy they have put in place. Another way of stating that last phrase is entrepreneurs execute the plan. While easy to say, reality shows sticking to the plan is not so easy to do.

In his book, “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” author Ram Charan argues: “Execution is the great unaddressed issue in the business world today. Its absence is the single biggest obstacle to success and the cause of most of the disappointments that are mistakenly attributed to other causes.”

Executing the plan often means making in-course changes, yet the destination always remains the same. Sometimes this means going back to the drawing board and starting over again. It rarely involves quitting. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

As 2012 approaches, I look forward to the challenges the new year will bring. There will be new skills that I need to learn; there will be situations that my previous experiences help me to overcome, and there will be tests that will require me to go back to the drawing board and execute a new plan. I am pumped just thinking about the possibilities.

In closing, I hope your approach to 2012 is a positive one. Regardless of the struggles in 2011, 2012 is a new beginning. Challenge yourself to become a better person, a better student, a better teacher, a better employee, a better business owner. Do not be content with the status quo. As long as you are in the game of life, play to win it.

To all, from the board of directors, volunteers, and staff of the Southern Midcoast Maine Chamber, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

UPCOMING EVENTS: The Chamber’s Annual Meeting and Dinner is Jan. 12, 4:30 to 8 p.m., at Thorne Dining Hall on the campus of Bowdoin College. The evening includes a member-to-member exhibition, networking and social hour, dinner and a short business meeting. Then sit back and enjoy Maine humorist Gary Crocker. Sponsors for the evening include Parkview Adventist Medical Center, Comcast Business Class and Mid Coast Hospital. Reserve now by calling 725-8797 or go to the chamber website (www.midcoastmaine.com) homepage and register and pay online. Registration deadline is Jan. 4.

The chamber proudly serves businesses in the following communities: Arrowsic, Bath, Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Brunswick, Dresden, Edgecomb, Georgetown, Harpswell, Phippsburg, Richmond, Topsham, West Bath, Westport Island, Wiscasset and Woolwich.

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