The 4 Conditions Required To Become An Expert In Any Field

The 4 Conditions Required To Become An Expert In Any Field

Today, I will cut right to the chase… only to elaborate on why the premise of this article might be inconclusive or even wrong after all for the rest of this article.

In order to become an expert you need:

  1. A valid & structured environment
  2. Lots of repetition
  3. Timely feedback as soon as you performed an action
  4. Deliberate practice, which means practicing outside your comfort zone and at the edge of your ability

Why Being An Expert Doesn’t Matter In Most Cases

Political scientist Philip Tetlock selected 284 people who make their living providing commentary or advice on political and economic trends for an interesting study.

They included journalists, foreign policy specialists, economists, and intelligence analysts.

Over two decades, he pestered them with questions like:

Would George Bush be re-elected?
Would apartheid end peacefully in South Africa?
Would Quebec secede from Canada?
And would the .com bubble burst?

In each case, the experts rated the likelihood of several possible outcomes.
And by the end of the study, Tetlock had quantified 82,361 predictions.

 survey results on paper

People who spend their time and make their living studying a particular subject make worse predictions than chance.

Even in the areas they know best, the experts were not significantly better than the non-experts.

Most of the events they have to predict are unique.

The S&P 500 index fund beats almost every single investor or manager in the long run. Then why is so much money invested in individual stocks, mutual funds and hedge funds?


We Don’t Like Averages

In another experiment conducted with both rats and humans, there is a red button and a green button that can both light up.

In 80% of the cases the green button lights up and in 20% of the cases the red button lights up randomly.

You can never be sure which button lights up.

The rat quickly learns to press only the green button and accept the 80% win rate.

Humans, on the other hand, usually press the green button.

But every now and then they try to predict when the red light will come on.

And the result is that they are right only 68% of the time.

We find it hard to accept average results.

black and white picture, man touching his face because of disappointment

And we see patterns everywhere, even in randomness, so we try to beat the average by predicting the pattern.

But if there is no pattern, this is a terrible strategy.

Even if there are patterns, you need timely feedback to learn them which is often not the case in today’s day and age.

The intention of this article is definitely not to bring you off your path to becoming an expert in your field.

On the contrary, it should benefit your journey by reminding you that you can’t be right all the time. The only thing that matters is that you are right more often than wrong about your topic and the tasks at hand.

Go easy on yourself but never stop pursuing that goal in mind.

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