man playing chess

While there are a few notable exceptions, experts in a given field are not typically more “gifted” than non-experts.

Contrary to popular belief, natural endowment is not typically the primary contributor to the acquisition of expertise.

Let’s take a closer look…

Experts & Novices

Let’s begin by comparing the attitudes and behaviors that distinguish an EXPERT from a NOVICE



To that point, consider well the following:

  • Nurture (through opportunity, extensive study, disciplined practice, and coaching) is extremely important in the development of expertise.
  • Experts do not typically possess extra-ordinary brains that are capable of remembering and calculating far beyond the capacity of “normal” brains.
  • Expertise is domain-specific. It is not correlated with general intelligence. In other words, being expert in chess does not make one expert in music.
  • Expertise is largely about the mastery of meaningful patterns. For example, research has shown that chess masters are no better than chess novices at understanding and remembering a random arrangement of chess pieces. Chess masters have a deep understanding when the chessboard is arranged in meaningful patterns… patterns based on the themes and strategies of chess.
  • Expertise is the product of experience… specifically the kind of experience that comes with disciplined work in pursuit of a meaningful goal.
  • The words expert, experience, and experiment share the very same root: “exper”. This is no coincidence.


  • Expertise cannot be explained by innate talent alone.
  • Expertise is the inevitable fruit of expereince.
  • Expertise is about internalize useful patterns.
  • Expertise is the inevitable reward for studying and practicing the right things the right way.
  • Expertise is born of humility, curiosity, honesty, and discipline.
  • Expertise is not a destination, but a never-ending journey.

In summary, all experts, whatever their natural endowment, have one trait in common: LOVE for what they are doing. Such passion fuels the discipline required to study and persevere when things get tough… in other words, after all the non-experts have given up.

learn more… Celebration

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