The 3 people you need to get better at anything

Man playing chess

Yesterday, I tried to convert one of my best buds over the phone. I told him he should start playing chess. To my surprise, he agreed.

We set up a time this weekend to play online so I could show him the fundamentals and basic strategies.

I immediately realized I had completed the “skill trifecta.”

To improve at anything, it’s best if you have:

1) Someone who is better than you.

A mentor. A coach. A teacher. Someone who is an expert compared to you who can drive you to learn from your mistakes and show you how it’s done.

I recently hired a chess tutor to do just that.

2) Someone who is equal to you.

This is the Goldilocks rival: not too much better than you, not too much worse, but just right. Every time you “go up” against this person, you must put all your skills to the test because there’s no guarantee who will come out on top.

One of my other best buds and I play chess regularly. He is still a smidge better than I am, but we’re even enough to make our matches enticing and perfectly challenging.

3) Someone who is below you.

Selfishly, you need someone you can reliably destroy so you can measure how far you’ve come from the beginner stage. But this is only 10% of it.

The other 90% of having someone much newer than you is the fact that you now have someone to teach. You become the expert for someone else.

When you teach something, you get to learn it twice.

Studies show that when you are forced to articulate concepts or lessons to someone who is less skilled, they become more solidified in your own mind. Jiujitsu students, for example, who begin teaching, work their way up the belt system much faster than those who never teach.

It can sound grandiose, but my buddy who wants to dive into chess…has just become my apprentice.

Simply talking on the phone with him about basic chess terms…I explained the difference between a pin and a trap. As I was speaking, I thought, “Whoa. I guess I actually am not a complete idiot when it comes to chess.”

Everybody is an expert to somebody.


Find an expert. Learn from them.

Find a worthy rival. Challenge them.

Find a student. Teach them.