The Script

Following the script is a great way to achieve expertise.

For example, you can get really good at chess by learning the rules and applying general principles: develop your pieces, castle your king, take open files, avoid doubled pawns, find outposts for your knights, etc.

Then you hit a plateau. You understand all the building blocks, and you can follow along as well as anyone else. But your performance isn’t as great as it should be. What’s missing?

It’s possible that you’re fixating on the script too much. To achieve mastery, you have to throw the script out the window and start experimenting on your own.

To go from good to great as a chess player, you have to transition from thinking in general principles to thinking in concrete lines. Everything becomes very situation-specific. Does taking that open file actually get you anywhere? Show me the variations. Calculate the consequences.

In life, the script will help you get somewhere just fine. But it won’t take you where you want to go, especially once you’re at the top. Once you’re in your Ivy, there is no script telling you how to use it. You have to get specific.

Most people haven’t really been there, so they don’t even know the script that well. They’ll tell you what they tell themselves: do the script better. Become a doctor, a lawyer, a consultant.

Who are the people shaping the world in the biggest ways? Who are the folks you look up to, that you aspire to? I promise you that they started in the smallest ways. With themselves. Changing the way they see the script. It got them there, good, now throw it out the window.

The script can tell you to think deeply. But it’s up to you to introduce creativity.

Drop out. Do something new. Something hard. Something old that everybody else forgot. Something risky that leaves you vulnerable. Put yourself in a position of weakness by society’s standards if you can see the strengths it will later bring.

The specifics of your situation will be right for you. And maybe doing the script is exactly what you need. If you don’t understand it well enough to reject it, then don’t reject it, you won’t be ready!

Just be careful when you cave and listen to the Lowest Common Denominator average life mumbo jumbo. Think hard, practice, and read The Defining Decade if you want to know the script.

Then apply it however the hell you want and don’t take no for an answer.

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