The Value of Changing Rooms

There is a saying : “If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.” As the President of Antigua and Barbuda Chess Federation and Teacher adviser to Antigua State College's Chess Club, I have had the privilege of seeing multiple transitions from one room to the next. The college's chess club consist of mainly beginners, while the federation weekly meetup consist of more experience players. I have not encountered one player from the college's chess club that regularly attended the federation's weekly meetup and didn't improve their game, none.

I have often invited players to come to the regular federation's weekly meetups. The commonly cited reason for not wanting to come to the weekly meetups is fear of being outmatched.  Actually, this is the case; initially, you might not win any games. It's somewhat of an informal motto "Come tek(take) yuh(your) blow." This is recognizing the fact that there are some dues to be paid to be good. Ok, you say, but "why can't I take my blows in private and come when I am strong?"

For some reason, that doesn't seem to work. My guess, there is no one pushing you. You are winning some games, and you are satisfied. If they had been coming to weekly meetups, there is no way they would get a hit of dopamine unless they improve. I like to keep track of when players transition from losing to winning. It takes roughly a thousand games for you to start winning against more advance players. I know this is chess, but I think it has applications for other avenues of life.

Setting Expectations - Experience persons can set realistic expectations for beginners. They know what it takes to be on top in that given sphere. For instance, when I tell beginners it will take roughly around thousand games to start beating me consistently, I set an expectation of the required effort. Also, experience persons can set expectations about resources required to be successful at a particular field. For instance, I will tell beginners that they need a chesstempo account in order to practice their tactics. Having the right expectations, allows you to know the necessary ingredients for success. Otherwise, you might get despondent after 100 games, not realizing you have 900 games left to be good.

Shared Advice - More advance persons in your field would know the mistakes they would have made in order to become advance. If you have access to them, they will more than likely share with you. Of course you can go on the internet and get some advice, but not everyone's story can be shared over the internet. Some advice are better illustrated in person. Also, the advice given maybe useful in your context (like how to deal with a specific person or organization), while advice on the internet may not. 

Increasing Motivation - Humans are competitive creatures. Implicitly, you are continuously asked: "How can I be more successful?"

In summary, if you are interested in being the best, sit amongst the best.