This I Believe

John - LaGrange, Illinois
Entered on February 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Late one warm summer afternoon, when I was twelve, I was relaxing on the couch and reading a book when my sister came into the room and asked me to play a game of chess. I had already been playing for a number of years, but she had only recently begun to get into the game. I enjoyed spending time with her, so I was delighted that she had asked. However, most of the games we had already played had ended decisively in my favor, which usually made my her upset. You see, I have always been very much into games, and when I play, I tend to do so zealously. I would have loved it if my sister had done well, but I wasn’t about to change my game to allow that to happen. Unfortunately, she experienced none of the magical leaps in skill that I had been hoping for, so I took the lead early on and continued to hold it. I could see that my sister wasn’t having much fun. Thus, in a radical move, I decided to try going a bit easier on her. Not much easier, of course, but just barely enough to let her get ahead of me. I found the challenge of balancing the game in such a manner as fun as playing it, so I continued, and I could see my sister became much more interested. I lost the game by a carefully measured hair’s breadth. My sister was beaming, and I felt great about it.

When I played my best game, which was more than enough to win, I didn’t realize for a while that it was causing problems. Had I been facing someone close to my skill level, it would have been best for us both to play all out./ We would each have an exciting challenge and learn things from each other. However , in this case, playing as well as I could was overbearing. I had no fun without a challenge, and my sister had no fun without any chance to succeed. Carefully tuning the game to make it more fun for someone else was much more interesting for me, and she got more out of it than she would have from ten swift defeats. To put the lesson in more general terms, I realized that if I make sure that other people are having fun, then everyone gets more out of the situation. I learned that it is incredibly important to be receptive to what others are feeling and to make sure that things are working for everyone. And this, I most certainly believe.