How Your Brain Works: Fundamentals of Expertise

piano-ology-how-your-brain-works-fundamentals-of-expertise-featured-image-by-michal-jarmoluk-from-pixabay Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

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

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

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.
  • Experts master meaningful patterns. Research shows that chess masters are no better than 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.

All that said, the takeaway message is this…

  • Expertise is not a talent.
  • Expertise is not a destination, but a never-ending journey.
  • Expertise is the inevitable fruit of studying and practicing the right things the right way.
  • Expertise is born of humility, curiosity, honesty, and discipline.
  • Expertise is a way of life!

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

learn more… The Power & Challenge of Studying