Metaphors are the most powerful language constructs. Every successful teacher uses this excessively while teaching a complex subject matter. Many of the major inventions had benefitted from this system. James Watt’s invention of Steam Engine is a by-product of weird behavior shown by his kettle. Benzene’s chemical structure came about because of its inventor saw a snake eating its own tail in dreams.

Books like Code Complete, Programming Pearls have a profound impact on my skill set. These books are filled with metaphors, because of which programming became easy for noobs. Cryptography is not an “extremely complex & impossible to master” thing for me because my teacher used metaphors to aid in the understanding of the topic. Every good teacher you have watched on the internet would have liberally used metaphors in their lectures. Richard Feynman is a big beacon in this field.

Expertise, Metaphors & Simplified Understanding

If we have gone through lectures of any good teachers. We would notice the prolific use of examples to help in understanding. The statement given by Raghuram Rajan to the parliamentary panel was also noob friendly. This theme spreads to every expert. Be it Ashal at AIFW or Warren Buffett, both have made it extremely simple to understand complex personal finance topics. Both use metaphors extensively to explain things. The appropriate examples ultimately aid in simplified understanding.

Simplified Understanding:

The simplified understanding of a topic is the seed from which expertise germinates. If you cannot understand debits and credits properly, accounting will be difficult for you. This article explains the personal finance version of double entry accounting. Since I understood the concept of double entry accounting, I could manage my finances efficiently. It becomes easy to explain complex operation like cap gains etc.. if you have a basic understanding of double entry accounting.

Without an understanding of core tenet of any topic, its impossible to gain expertise in that field. Without understanding rockets move up because of Newton’s 3rd law, you cannot become an expert in rocket science. Similarly, not knowing about bids and asks of stocks, you cannot become a trader. (See Also: How I came to know about bid-ask spreads) It’s this simplified understanding of the topic, that makes one expert. Expertise is a tree which is born out a simple seed.

The expertise is a tree. But a simple understanding of core tenet is seed. Hence the knowledge gleaned from simplified understanding needs to germinate into wisdom to apply that knowledge. After this conversion to wisdom, the growth happens. More knowledge and successful conversion into wisdom build expertise. But a seed needs to go through the process of becoming sapling, bush, plant, to end up as a tree.

Final note:

Hope you understood the metaphor of plant growth. I used that metaphor to explain how to build expertise. Experts do that metaphorical thing all the time. I hope the pathway is sufficiently lit with the metaphor I gave. Welcome to the path to expertise. And that that is too much of metaphors in small space 🙂 .

An expert can always simplify with a metaphor, a noob never can.