How to Master Any Game

Found on a table near the coffeepot at the office: a one-pager of inspirational advice by James Altucher, "... American hedge fund manager, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and podcaster". Yes, he's full of himself; his Internet domain shows it. Yes, his advice is unoriginal, debatable, and far from nuanced. That doesn't make it bad! Reformatted, from Altucher's chart published in late 2014:

How to Master Any Game
          Including the Game of Life
                    by James Altucher

  1. Look at All the Possible Moves — List all the options that can happen. Don't go deeply down ANY OF THEM. Only look a couple moves ahead and see which options you can quickly eliminate.
  2. Look for the Short Cuts — Every game, and almost every life situation, has short cuts: ways you can get better without learning the entire literature of the game from beginning to end. Look for the small inputs with huge rewards.
  3. A Bad Plan Is Better Than No Plan — Having a bad plan gives you the ability to analyze what is working and change what isn't. Having no plan give you none of these opportunities to get better.
  4. Master Your Psychology — You can't control what happens to you, only how you respond to it. So better to love than to be bitter, to be grateful than to think you're unlucky, to take action than to not be prepared.
  5. Luck Favors the Prepared — In chess there's a saying, "Only the good players get lucky." This applies to every area of life. As Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) said to me, "If you know you're only going to succeed at 10% of the things you try, make sure you try 100 things."
  6. Don't Take Too Many Risks — If you play too conservatively, you'll also lose, but don't take any risks big enough to lose the game. E.g., don't quit your job to chase your idea; start your business on the side.
  7. Play People Better Than You — You're the average of the five people you spend your time with. Play against great players, work for great companies, read great books. Don't waste time with the people who will bring you down.
  8. Study the History — If you don't love the history of what you want to master, then you will never master it. The history of your field is your virtual mentor if you don't have a direct mentor.
  9. Play the Cards in Front of You — In chess, don't go for a full out attack on the other person's king when your pieces are not really in place for it. Just play what is in front of you. Improve incrementally and be PATIENT. You will have your chance to win many times.
  10. Maybe the Most Important: the Threat Is Stronger Than the Execution — Microsoft always announces software years before it's done. This is called "vaporware" but nobody really knows whether their vaporware will become real or notes this often dissuades competitors.

... and yes, some silliness, but also some great wisdom, especially in #4 ...

(cf. Optimist Creed (1999-04-16), Minimax Strategy (1999-09-25), Caissic Metaphors (2000-01-08), Ten Thousand Hours (2001-09-20), Tough-Minded Optimists (2009-12-22), How to Be an Optimist (2011-08-24), Big Ideas (2012-05-20), ...) - ^z - 2016-02-18