Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mastery: There’s no next move. There’s only your next move.

By James Altucher

Are you satisfied with your life? Do you go to work knowing you could do better?

Knowing there are unique talents in you that could make you great, the best in the world?

This post is about achieving mastery. But also why it’s ok to not get mastery in the traditional sense. You can define it, not use the definitions provided by everyone else.

In other words, it’s fine to be a loser.

There are a lot of books written on this topic. If you want to read an entire book on it, read Robert Greene’s “Mastery” (or watch my podcast with him). There’s also “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell.

But it’s not that hard. It doesn’t take a book to describe what makes a master. For one thing, most of us, and I mean me, will not be masters at anything.

I try. I tried with chess. I hit the rank of “master” but that doesn’t mean anything. I’ll never be world class at it. I’ve tried with writing. I’ve been writing for twenty or so years.

But I’ve known a lot of people who are among the best in the world in their field. I’ve read all the books. I’ve talked to all the people and dissected what they thought led them to their mastery.

I’ve built and sold businesses to people who were masters of their fields in every industry. I’ve invested in people who were masters in their fields.

So I’ve at least recognized who were masters and what they did.

Take this then with a grain of salt but based on my experience and the experiences of all the people I’ve interacted with.

Here are the elements of mastery. I also have some good news and bad news.


I hate to say it, but talent is a factor.

There’s a myth that everyone is talented at at least one thing and you just have to find it.

This isn’t true.

Most people are not talented at anything. Most people can be pretty good at something. For instance, Tim Ferris shows in “The Four Hour Chef” how you can be a pretty good chef with four hours worth of work.

I’ve tried his techniques and in four hours I made some pretty good dishes. Thank you, Tim. But at the launch of Tim’s book he held a dinner where each course (I think there were eight of them) was cooked by a different chef.

One of the chefs was (approximately) eight years old and his dish might’ve been the best served. That kid will be a master one day if he isn’t already. That’s talent.

When my chess ranking was peaking back in 1997 I played in a tournament against a girl fittingly named Irina Krush.

She really did crush me in about 25 moves. After the game she told me, “May be your bishop to B4 move felt a little weak to me.” She was right.

She was 13 years old. I stopped playing chess in tournaments right that moment and now only play when I’m on the phone with people. She had talent. She’s now one of the youngest women grandmasters in the world.

B) HOW DO YOU FIND what you are talented at? I think there are roughly two methods.

Read the rest here.

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