Original article by @rocketbrainsurgeon
- I've grown up playing console games: Zelda, Mario, and Madden games of many systems and decades.
- Transitioning to computer games, I was top 20 worldwide in Starcraft and top 100 worldwide in Starcraft 2.
- Playing chess for awhile took me to the top 5% of tournament players in the US.
- In Magic: the Gathering, I was in the top thousand or so players by composite Standard/Limited rating.
- I started playing poker on the side, and after awhile I was good enough to spend several years as a professional online poker player.
- Over the years I've been a programmer (8 different languages, dozens of frameworks), and now I'm an online marketer (SEM, SEO, Social, Affiliate).
I've played hundreds of different games, mastered quite a few, played professionally, and have come to the conclusion: From a game theory perspective, it's all the same. Starting out, learning the ropes, making a name for yourself, competition... there's nothing unique about any of them. Even the business world follows these rules. Here are the steps to master pretty much anything. Seek out those who have come before you, and learn what they know Don't think that you're going to immediately turn the community on its' ear with your "radical" approach. Often, you'll just be stumbling down the wrong path until you finally learn in 1000 hours what you could have learned in minutes. Someone else had to start from scratch too, and they often write about it or produce some other educational content. Standing on the shoulders of giants is a saying that appeared for good reason: learning from previous efforts is extremely effective. Use the Pareto Principle whenever possible Also known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto principle states that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. That means that there are very few things you should be concentrating on, and throwing away all the rest as the cost isn't proportional to the reward. For example, in games like Starcraft where resource gathering is a prime objective, often just having more resources outweighs all other factors. In chess, tactics are used on every move while strategy often comes and goes. That means working on tactics will yield a bigger payoff for your effort. In business, your income is determined by others if you work for a company whereas you determine your own income if you work for yourself. Aim to win, not lose slower
If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding. Sun Tzu
The quote, while it looks really stupid on the surface, actually carries a lot of truth to it: people actually choose to lose slowly rather than win most of the time. Common examples are many situations in American football, such as punting on 4th and inches or kicking a field goal on 4th and goal. Statistically speaking, these decisions make absolutely no sense! But people whose job it is to play a game routinely mess them up. People who don't game for a living almost always make the wrong decision. Measure yourself constantly and concretely Always re-evaluate yourself after a performance, and make sure your evaluation is based on something definitive like damage/points/money/etc. Not performing this step is the reason why people struggle with mediocrity forever: they never give themselves a chance to realize that they need improvement, or base their skill level on nothing but their feeling of superiority. Practice constantly, but also let time pass to let your brain work on it "alone" Spending a lot of time doing something helps to increase proficiency (but only with reflection and study!), but there's something else I've found: learning subconsciously is key to most endeavors. With chess in particular, I'd spend weeks practicing my middle-game skills or tactics, without seeing any real progress. After getting frustrated and moving on to other areas or dropping the game completely for awhile, I would come back to the problem with vastly improved results! This process repeated itself with other games and endeavors: either the brain really does work on the problem subconsciously, or it just needs time to "sink in". Whatever the reason, I've found that there are skill plateaus where you can't speed up the process without old fashioned time passing by. When it comes to our personal success, we as humans are our own worst enemies. We need to look at our performance objectively, learn what it takes to succeed, cut out all crap we don't need, and then spend time on it. But looking at ourselves and admitting we suck isn't all that easy...