“For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” – Pablo de Sarasate 1844-1908.
Being a success takes determined, consistent study and practice, and you stay stay there ‘by determined, consistent study and practice.’
It takes a huge commitment of time to become great at chess, or business, or any life skill. Great players don’t just wake up and go out to conquer championships. The brilliance, smiles and victory you see on the day of the game are all enabled by discipline, study, and practice.
Remember the words of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf – “The more you sweat in peace time, the less you bleed in war.”
It’s obvious, you cannot shy away from practice and self-review if you intend to become a great player. Hitting the books is one aspect, but alone it is not enough. Your studies must be followed with exercises and actual play. Just like you cannot get game experience in isolation; your practice too has to be backed up by serious after-game analysis otherwise you will continually commit the same mistakes. Learning should become a skill and a habit for you, if not also a life-long discipline.
“I believed in studying just because I knew education was a privilege. It was the discipline of study, to get into the habit of doing something that you don’t want to do.” – Wynton Marsalis
It is not different from the way you study and practice in school. The more familiar you are with a subject, the more interesting it is. Examinations are easier, teachers are friendlier, and subjects are more engaging when you have diligently prepared for them.
Chess teaches you to sweat before the match. Winning consistently takes a pound of preparation against an ounce of play. Malcom Gladwell quipped that you are unlikely to “master” any complex field (like high-level chess) if you haven’t practiced ten thousand hours. This translates to practice of twenty hours every week for twenty years. Where does that leave you in your dreams of becoming a grandmaster?
You may not aim to be world-class, but the habit of study and practice must be a part of your game plan for success, in Business and in Life.
How do you study and practice the Game of Life?
Manage your resources carefully, especially your effort, time, and timing. Everything except time can be regained, and timing means doing things in relation to their proper order for effectiveness.
When you practice a skill (Chess, soccer, paper-trading your investments, etc.), choose a period you won’t be distracted and your energy is high – it will allow you to focus. There are lots of things that take only a few minutes during the day, like answering email or paying bills, but learning a skill takes a concerted, uninterrupted effort. 30 – 45 minutes of concentration per day on one habitual task will increase your skill of focus in everything else you undertake.
“From one thing know ten thousand.” – Musashi, The Book of Five Rings
Eventually you’ll build enough momentum from success in practice that other areas of your work will become sweet and effortless; you simply become a multi-disciplinary “genius.” Miyamoto Musashi, quoted above, in addition to being the greatest swordsman of all time without a single loss in over 60 duels, was a blacksmith, a poet, a tea-master, and cross-talent in many other fields. Mastery in anything is like that, it follows you elsewhere.
The Art of Strategy is all about creating durable minor advantages today that will last a LONG time. Progress may seem slow at first, but when those first lessons snowball and are supported by daily commitment, success will come “like the wheel behind the ox.” Tactics may win you a moment here and there, but it is Strategy and Discipline that ensure success.
What you do in your “down-time” matters. Practice. Daily.
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.“ – Stephen King
image: Chess a Creative Commons 0.0 photo courtesy of Counselling from Pixabay