The Calculation - Habit Spiral

Watching a child learn chess over a period of time is one of the most fascinating experiences in understanding how human intelligence functions.

Picture this. A 5 year old sits in front of a chess board barely able to reach to the other end. Neither does she have the idea of what the funny looking pieces are nor does she know what’s supposed to be done with them.

Fast forward 6 months and same child is making all the correct moves that follow a set of rules and gameplay plan. All this after just 25 hours of learning. How does the child’s brain make the leap from not knowing anything about chess to this level of play? One is left to wonder.

The answer lies in understanding the Calculation - Habit spiral. You see, every human brain is a giant calculator that can crunch numbers, observe patterns and perform cost-benefit analysis. In other words, the human brain can take morsels of data & information - numbers, words, letters, patterns - and operate - add, combine, subtract, split, divide, multiply, differentiate and integrate - on them.

Calculation is the true way of learning something from nothing. Done over time, the calculations become a habit, where it has been completely internalized. Then comes the next challenge. More calculation. More habits. Spiraling to higher levels.


The problem of learning is when the mind becomes too lazy to do the next set of calculations and instead defaults to habits learned thus far. Stagnation, plateau and mediocrity. Instead, let it spiral out.