It took Magnus Carlsen, called the Mozart of Chess, just 90 seconds to checkmate Bill Gates. He could have done it faster if Bill Gates’ made his moves quicker.
Magnus could crush Gates because he is Chess Grandmaster. He is an undisputed Master of his niche and he can prove it in 90 seconds or less.
This demonstration got me thinking about the meaning of expertise. How do you know someone is an expert? As this next video shows, you can’t rely on looks:
Look the part, have a great logo, and recite a few buzzwords and people are willing to trust their life savings to a stranger.
So what really qualifies you or me to be an expert?
I think Magnus Carlsen’s chess against Bill Gates offers some clues –
1. Know The Rules:
Did you see the awkward hesitation at the beginning of the game? Magnus was waiting for Gates to make his first move and start the clock.
Magnus didn’t move until the rule was followed. I know a few rebels who would say that following the rules is a weakness. But in most case, understanding the rules of the game is critical for success. You can’t play until you know where to start.
As an expert, you should have a thorough understanding of the rules, factors, and variables that govern success in your niche.
It doesn’t matter if you are a dog trainer or an investment banker, there are rules to your game and you can’t play until you understand them.
For example, I watched a situation where a trained police dog bit his trainer. Who was to blame? The trainer because he put his hand in front of the dog’s mouth before issuing a stop command. He didn’t know the rules.
You can break the rules when you’ve me a critical condition. Charlie Parker, the hypnotic jazz saxophonist said it best…
“You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” – Charlie Parker
You can break the rules and make things happen after you’ve mastered them. Take your time.
2. Speed reflects practice:
Each of Carlsen’s moves were made in seconds. He wasn’t showing off. He knew the right move because he knew every variation and its counter the moment Gates reached for his pawn or bishop. He didn’t need to ponder, take a break, or agonize of every possible mistake. He was making his decisions purely from muscle memory.
It’s not the speed that impresses me. You can be a fast idiot. For an expert, speed comes naturally because they’ve already done the thinking, the hard work required to master their craft. They are executing and speed is just the byproduct.
How are you practicing? What is your training regimen? You are in danger of getting beat by a true expert if you are “winging it”.
3. Pattern Recognition:
Chess is a game of pattern recognition. Gates’ opening moves were part of a common opening sequence, a pattern that Carlsen knew. His knowledge allowed him to select and execute the correct countermoves and quickly seize the initiative to go on the attack. I’m sure that this wasn’t Gates’ first chess game, but I’ll bet that he wasn’t sure what Carlsen was doing. The evidence is the quick checkmate. Carlsen recognized the path to victory. Gates did not.
Several years ago, I asked a friend to diagnose my golf game, specifically my drive.
He took me to the driving range and asked me to hit a a few bucket of balls. I sliced, hooked, and shanked my way through two dozen balls before he stopped me.
He said, “Stan put down the golf club.”
“Hold this bucket, one hand under the bottom, the other holding the handle.”
“Now imagine that this bucket is filled with water. Got it?”
“Ok, I want you to toss this bucket of water over your opposite shoulder. Make sure you don’t get wet.”
He watched me do this another dozen times before he handed back my driver.
“Now hit some more balls.”
Miraculously, so I thought, I started hitting the balls straight down the range.
After the 10th straight shot he said, “Good now buy me lunch.”
True experts have “hit enough balls” to recognize when something isn’t quite right. Most importantly, they know several ways to fix it. My friend’s, bucket of water, was the most effective way to correct my drive. How about you? What is your “bucket of water” lesson?
Confidence Is a Clear Advantage
Bill Gates is arguably the most successful businessman of our generation. No one has amassed more wealth since John D. Rockefeller. Biographies of Bill “Trey” Gates mention his incredible focus and confidence often swerving into arrogance. But, did you notice how quickly Carlsen punctured Gates’ armor and leave him sputtering “Really?”
Carlsen didn’t coddle, encourage, or play down to Gates’ level. He demolished him and politely shook his hand after administering an epic beating. I bet Gates’ appreciated Carlsen’s chutzpah.
I’ve heard that “vulnerability” is the new black. I disagree. As an expert, your readers are looking for confidence, decisiveness, and know-how. You can be personable and you should be humble but don’t believe that whining about your day, your problems, or the troll that hurt your feelings will gain respect.
Save vulnerability for your momma. Instead, “be so good they can’t ignore you.”