How to become an expert

How to be an expert

This is one of my favorite graphs since it outlines pretty much how to become really good at something. It's from Kathy Sierra's How to be an expert blog post.

Notice that the x-axis on the graph states "years or decades" and not days or months. The thing to remember is that becoming good at something (be it music, soccer or programming) takes an enormous amount of effort and effort takes time. Peter Norvig (director of research for Google) has also written about this matter, here is a quote from Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years:

The key is deliberative practice: not just doing it again and again, but challenging yourself with a task that is just beyond your current ability, trying it, analyzing your performance while and after doing it, and correcting any mistakes. Then repeat. And repeat again. There appear to be no real shortcuts: even Mozart, who was a musical prodigy at age 4, took 13 more years before he began to produce world-class music.

It's clear that to become an expert you must:

  • spend an enormous amount of effort
  • keep pushing yourself on tasks that are just beyond your current ability

But bear in mind, you must not pick too hard tasks. It will ruin your flow (psychology), especially the 6. factor:

6. factor of flow:
Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).

So when you see me take tasks that are out of my current ability, you know why: it's the only way to become really good.

27. Mar 2009 Life · Tips
© Amir Salihefendic