“Losing can persuade you to change what doesn’t need to be changed, and winning can convince you everything is fine even if you are on the brink of disaster. “
– Garry Kasparov
Over winter break I wanted to get good at Chess. I watched YouTube videos about different strategies, bought books on historical games, and stayed up late reading about Chess theory. After a few weeks I knew all the basic moves.
I was ready to play.
During my first game I made a blatant error that cost me my queen. I lost shortly afterwards.
My second game didn’t go much better. While I did manage to avoid some of the mistakes I had previously made, I still got beat.
The third, fourth, five, sixth, and seventh games all went equally as badly. I’d unwittingly do something stupid and set myself up for defeat.
It took sixteen games before I finally beat an opponent. It took me another five before I learned a valuable lesson: all the training in the world is no match for field experience.
I learned more about Chess from an afternoon of playing it than I had from weeks of study. There is no substitute for real experience. You could spend 10,000 hours reading about Chess tactics, and you’d still lose to a guy who’s spent a fraction of that time actually playing the game.
The same principle applies to business. Skimming Good to Great isn’t the same as starting a company. A book won’t make you stress out, you can’t fail at reading, and text isn’t going to try and screw you out of something. Real life, on the other hand, will do all those.