Episode 317: Become an Expert
In chess there’s this saying, only the good players are lucky.
Unfortunately, you can’t always think you’re a genius just because you win.
And you can’t always blame it on luck or other people when you lose.
Yet it’s our natural evolutionary behavior.
This idea applies to EVERYTHING.
Business. Comedy. Chess. Writing.
If you want to become an expert at anything, this is important.
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” he talks about the 10,000 Hour Rule. Basically, if you want to become an expert at anything, it’s going to take 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert.
I think there’s a hack to that rule.
Annie Duke believes it may not be sufficient enough.
For Annie, 10,000 hours is not a guarantee to becoming an expert at your field.
“When we’ve won we tend to not go back and examine,” Annie said, “I know that I did well, but could I have done even better? Could I have tweaked it? Could I have maximized a little bit more than I actually did? I think it makes us feel like we’re not getting to bask in the glow of the good feeling from ‘look how well I did, I’m so successful and smart and right.’”
I wondered why.
It’s hard to learn when you win, I think.
It’s a hot potato whether you win or lose. You can’t hold on to either for too long.
And learning from the good moments is particularly difficult.
So how efficiently are you learning?
Think about it.
What are you doing right now to get yourself closer to being an expert?
“In order to become an expert you actually have to be a really good learner at whatever it is,” Annie said.
How do you become a good learner?
For me, I started interviewing every comedian I could find to learn the microskills of stand up. I’ve been learning from some of the best. Many who’ve been doing comedy for over 20 years.
Annie had the invaluable benefit of being plugged in with her brother’s already established poker community. She was surrounding herself with the best poker players in the world at the time.
“They had rules about how you communicated within that, that forced you to either get out or have an open mind,” Annie said.
It’s the community hack.
It’s the plus, minus, equal approach to learning.
“I was really lucky in my poker career to have all three,” Annie said.
Annie started teaching.
And her game changed dramatically.
She explained something interesting to me.
When you’re teaching someone, you have to explain. You try to help someone understand the strategies or concepts or tactics that you deem necessary to your craft.
“If you can’t coherently describe this to another human being, it’s a really good sign that maybe what you’re doing isn’t the best,” Annie said.
Or that you don’t fully understand it, which means you probably can’t defend what you’re doing.
So we have to redefine what it means to win as to LEARN.
We need to start to embrace the uncertainty.
I challenge you to start saying I don’t know.
If you’re willing to embrace uncertainty, be more open minded and build a community, the faster you’re going to learn.
And the fewer hours you’re going to need in order to gain the expertise.
This is the 10,000 Hour Hack.
And how anyone can apply it to their lives right now.
Links and Resources
- “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell
- “Every Hand Revealed” by Gus Hansen
- “Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy” by Judd Apatow
- “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday
- “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” by Ryan Holiday
- “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher
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