Leadership Lessons From The Queen Of Katwe


Queen of KatweFrom the slums of Katwe, Uganda to a journey of becoming a chess champion – this is the story of Phiona Mutesi. She would have never dreamed that Disney would be making a movie on her life and would name it “Queen of Katwe,” which is now a motion picture (2016). She would have never thought that someone would be so interested in her life that she would be a part of a book, but it happened. In 2012, Tim Crothers wrote a book “The Queen of Katwe: One Girl’s Triumphant Path to Becoming a Chess Champion.” Her life of transformation is a lesson for millions of people facing daily challenges in life. Leaders can learn a major lesson about how to thrive in the current business environment from this movie too. Here are the three powerful lessons you can’t afford to miss.

  1. Keep Looking:
    cartoon-of-man-looking-through-binocularsPhiona Mutesi never knew she had it in her to become a chess champion or even the best chess player in Uganda. The only job she knew was to sell maize. But one day while following her brother she stumbled onto a project run by Sports Outreach Institute, a religious and sports mission and got acquainted with the game of chess. Entrepreneurs must also be on the lookout for opportunities to create value. Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of Paytm (an app that has 1 crore plus downloads), also faced failures before he came up with the idea of Paytm. Before Paytm, he worked with other projects like indiasite.net and One97. Keep exploring opportunities and you never know when you might stumble on the right one.
  2. The Power of the Gut:
    whats-your-gut-feeling-doctorWhen Phiona Mutesi came across chess, she felt liberated. She used to stay in a slum, with no steady source of income and no future to hold on to, but she found her happiness in chess. Your gut can tell you what your mind can’t. Emotions play a crucial role in guiding you in the right direction. Leaders believe in the power of the gut while taking major business decisions. Jack Welch named his book “Straight from the Gut,” and not “Straight from the Mind,” because business in not only numbers; there are other factors that can’t be explained by data. Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” It’s time we listen to our gut while taking major decisions that affect our life.
  3. Invest in Coaching:
    all-coaching-is-is-taking-a-player-where-he-cant-take-himselfPhiona Mutesi didn’t do it all by herself. She was guided by a supportive coach, Robert Katende, who ran the after-school sports outreach program. He saw the talent in Mutesi and encouraged her to continue with chess even when it was tough. There were times when Mutesi gave up, but it was Katende who inspired her to persist and take part in chess championships. It was only because of him that Mutesi got exposure to chess championships outside Katwe and became successful. In business too, you can’t do everything alone, you need a coach or a partner who can help you succeed. Steve Jobs (Apple) was supported by Steve Wozniak; Bill Gates (Microsoft) was supported by Paul Allen; Sachin and Binny Bansal (Flipkart) complement each other too. Partnerships can help you achieve what you can’t achieve alone.

This movie has been an inspiration for me. I would definitely recommend the movie because of its motivating theme. Do share the name of the movie that motivated you. I would certainly watch it and share my insights. Enjoy!

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