How to become a master in any business? (part 1)
James Altucher — entrepreneur, trader, investor, author of several bestsellers, who released and sold independently. In his blog, he openly and paradoxically teaches to live a happier life.
Are you happy with your life? Do you go to work knowing that you can achieve more? Knowing that you have unique abilities that can make you the best in the world?
This post is about how to achieve mastery. But also that it is normal not to achieve mastery in the traditional sense. You can define your own skills, not use someone else’s definitions.
In other words, being a loser is normal.
You don’t need to write a book to describe what a master is. Most of us (and especially me) will never become masters of anything.
I try. I tried to achieve this in chess. I have reached the rank of “master”, but it means nothing. I will never reach the world level in them. I tried to achieve this in writing. I’ve been writing for over twenty years.
But I know a lot of people who are among the best in the world in their field. I read their books. I talked to people and analyzed what they thought led them to mastery. I built and sold businesses to people who have achieved excellence in their industry. I invested in masters of my craft. So I still understand who the masters are and what they do.
So be skeptical about this, but remember that these thoughts are based on my experience and the experience of all the people with whom I communicated. These are the main elements of skill. As well as bad and good news for you.
I hate to say it, but talent is important. There is a myth that everyone is talented in at least one thing, you just have to find what. It’s not true.
Most people aren’t talented at anything. But most people can be pretty good at something. Tim Ferris shows in his book “Cook in 4 hours” how you can become a pretty good cook after four hours of effort. I used his technique and prepared very well.
But on the occasion of the book’s release Tim arranged a dinner where each dish (there were, it seems, eight) was prepared by a separate cook. One of them was 8 years old, and his dish was probably the best. Someday he will become a master (if not already). What a talent.
When my chess rating was at its peak, I played a game with a girl named Irina Krush. She broke me in 25 moves. After the game, she told me, “I Guess when you moved the elephant to B4, I saw your weakness.” She was right. She was 13. And then I immediately stopped playing in chess competitions and now I play only when I talk to people on the phone. She was talented. Today she is one of the youngest female grandmasters in the world.
2. How do you know what your talent is?
I think there are two methods.
1) Take a notebook and write down everything you liked to do from the age of 6 to 18, before your life was dominated by College, relationships, lame jobs, mortgages, children, responsibility, self-contempt, etc.
I was talking to Lewis House on my podcast. He said that he had always dreamed of being an athlete since childhood. And that he used his social skills as a child to compensate for his weak academic skills. He found his two talents and became a master in both areas.
Often the doctor makes the combination of several “negotiantes”. I do not know if I can become a master in something, but I loved writing, games and everything related to business since childhood. Maybe someday.
2) Go to a bookstore and find a topic where you will be ready to read 500 books. If you are eager to read all 500 books on crochet, perhaps you have a talent for this.
And it’s okay to be talented at anything. We are the product of all our experience, everything we are interested in, everything we flirt with. And this product may seem to anyone garbage. But play with your garbage and be happy. If you succeed, you will get to the best 0.00001%.
3. Four hours a day
All books Tim Ferris contain in the title words “4 hours…”. I asked almost every master I met, how many hours a day they spend on mastering their skills. They did not repeat the standard nonsense that entrepreneurs in Silicon valley beat: “I work 20 hours a day, and if I did not have to sleep, I would work 30 hours a day.”
You can’t become a master of anything if you work 20 hours a day. On the contrary, something is very wrong in your life if you work so much on one thing. The typical answer is, “I study four hours a day.” Former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov said that he can play chess for a maximum of three hours a day. This is the world champion! The rest of the time he spent on sports, learning languages, other things that brought balance to his life.
In any area where you want to succeed, you need to study history. All art is created in context. If someone had written Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony today, she would have been laughed at. Andy Warhol tried himself in many areas of art before deciding to paint cans of Campbell’s soup at the right time. In any business, the study of the history of the industry, the biographies of past leaders, the successes and failures of those who passed this way before you, it is extremely important to achieve mastery.
If I were interested in oil drilling, I would study where it was produced in the 1920s, 1950s, 1970s, what technologies were used, what is the history of these technologies, how they were improved, how the policy was built around oil production and so on. Somewhere there is a way to get incredibly rich. Not for me, because I don’t care about oil. But for someone. Or many.
5. Study your failures
Poker champion Elon Schwartz won more than $7 million in Championships and many millions in informal cash games. We played chess together until he switched first to checkers and then to poker. I asked him why many people have been playing poker for 20 years but can’t learn to play better.
He said, “Everyone wants to blame someone. I didn’t have enough luck, had a fight with my wife or something. But the main thing — we must learn to study their defeat. You need to take notes about the conditions in which you lost, as well as in which you won. You have to think about everything.”
By some point you will have prepared 10,000 dishes. Play a million hands of poker or a thousand games of chess. Or create 20 businesses.
Very few people are successful at once. It requires too much luck, and luck favors the prepared and persistent. For those first thousand games or whatever, you will face failure many times. The best baseball players in the world are considered incredibly successful if they knock the ball out “only” 70% of the time.
When my father died, I logged into his online chess account and saw that he had played about 30,000 games. But have not learned to play better. Many people can play 10,000 hands of poker and never get better.
Cook a thousand pies and don’t get better.
Therefore, you need to remember your experience, study your failures, try to notice what you did right and what you did not, and remember it for the future.
Will the future experience be exactly the same as the past? Usually not. But you need to be able to make conclusions like, “Um, this is very similar to the case four years ago when A, B and B happened.”
Andre Agassi said he didn’t like tennis. On the one hand, I believe him, on the other — no. After all, there are different types of love. There is love without conditions, love that the Dalai Lama is capable of. There is lust. There is Mature love. In some respects, both are combined. They have a lot of suffering and a lot of fun. Maybe tennis was like that for Agassi. I don’t know.
But skill in any field involves a lot of suffering. They cannot be avoided. If there is too much suffering, then it is possible to give up this business — it is not the worst. I don’t like going to the dentist. It’s causing too much pain. So there’s something wrong with my teeth. I gave up the idea of having perfect teeth.