If you’ve played Chess before you have experienced that slap-in-the-face moment when you had to come to terms after an abrupt loss. Regardless of how well the game was going for you before then and regardless of how close you were to victory: something went wrong; and before you realized it, checkmate. You have nothing left but to take a deep breath, shake the other’s hand, praise him or her for the absolute and utter creaming of your game and ego, and move on.
Now comes the important part. From here, you can either end it; pack up the game, decide that a loss is merely a loss, and go out for crunch swirl deluxe ice cream—never to think about it again—which is a perfectly fine thing to do; or you can take some time (after getting the ice cream, of course) to look at what you did—why you did it, and look for ways to stop it or improve.
This is what broke states like Michigan and made states like North Carolina rise. After the auto industry began nosediving, workers and corporate leaders of the State of Michigan did little to find another use for their skills. They stayed on the sinking Titanic rather than jumping over to the Carpathia—they chose stagnation over reinvention. On the other hand, North Carolina used to be a textile wonderland. When the mills began to close, the state began to transition to banking: fast forward two or three decades, and North Carolina is home the second largest banking city in the US: Charlotte. But that’s not all: when the housing crisis began, the plucky Tarheels began another campaign of reinvention: this time from banking to technological research and power production. As the banks’ power in the local economy began to diminish—that of the technology and power companies began to rise, marking a second reinvention from what used to be called the Rip Van Winkle State.
While the metaphor may not be prefect (very few ever are), the core of the story does hold true. Reinvention—careful, cautious thought about things that go wrong and about possible fixes for them can work wonders to prevent stagnation. In the case of a chess game, constant review of mistakes made in the game coupled with a conscious effort to make changes to your strategy are what makes you a better chess player.
The same principles apply to your personal and professional lives. It’s your move.