Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
Let me make a clarification. You’re not an expert at everything. But here’s the thing. You probably couldn’t be, at least not all at once. You might be able to achieve competency or near mastery in a few subjects but at a certain point, you might ask; What am I doing with all this knowledge? How relevant is all this to my ultimate desires and objectives? Should I outsource or delegate to someone who is already an expert and has more experience? Is this really the best use of my time? My point is that there is always someone who has more skills and expertise on a topic than you. Knowing how to leverage the knowledge and experience of others is something that requires humility, a recognition of effort and value built by you and others but also something that some of the most successful people on the planet know is the key to success.
You likely have that one thing, your North Star, as described by Gary Vaynerchuk, your ultimate end game goal for The Good Life, according to Tai Lopez or your Why, as discussed by Simon Sinek. In order for you to focus on that most effectively, you will need the help of others with the secondary, supportive components of your goals. Or, quite possibly, help directly on the thing you want the most. Your ability to precisely identify which things you can ask for help on and who to ask will be a reflection of your level of self-awareness and knowledge of your strengths and weaknesses. You can’t do everything. And if you think you can, you’re not going to be that good. Sorry.
My objective in this article (I hope) is to demonstrate that when it comes to your health, fitness and well being, there are people who’ve dedicated far more time than you to understanding what works most effectively. You don’t have to align yourself with an individual like this; however, it is good to know the effects of the decision to figure it out yourself. There are pros and cons to going solo and pros and cons to collaboration. I won’t discuss them here. I’m going to assume you have the introspective capacity to figure out what these look like for you. Sure, a trainer or coach might have knowledge, experience and skills that far surpass yours, but I’m willing to bet that there is at least one thing that you do or have experience in that far surpasses that of the trainer or coach you could choose to work with. Would you want them arguing with you about best practices in your industry? How about things they’ve heard in the media about your industry or field of study? I mention that in part as a response to the times when this has happened to me in working with people who insist on explaining the perceived validity of things they have heard about or see in health and fitness.
Now I certainly don’t have all the answers — not even close — and I won’t pretend to. So, to provide the counterargument to my statement, you also shouldn’t take everything at face value that is touted by a trainer, coach or professional in a position of authority simply because they are a trainer, coach or have lots of Social Media followers. Healthy, thorough and critical discussions are always beneficial for both parties. What I am pointing to is the importance of recognizing the efforts of others and the exchange of knowledge and experience that can take place when efforts have been acknowledged and respected. I will be the first to say that I don’t want anyone to take what I say as gospel simply because I say it from a place of professional experience. Question-asking is what helps us grow.
It takes a humility, awareness and the ability to look at things with a level of discernment to recognize the time, energy & money others have invested in their skill sets, expertise & the commitment to a craft that has been honed for more than just a few years. I say this to myself more than I say it to you, the reader, because, of course, I have fallen prey to the good feelings of thinking that I know what I am talking about. There’s a reason why no one spends all their time talking about everything they don’t know. It isn’t as juicy and self-indulgently glorious as talking about what we “know,” even if we literally only read a magazine article on the topic.
The most important take away that I want to leave you with is this. I hope to respect the time of myself and others so that I can help give you time back in your life by helping you with something that I know more about than you. On the other side of the coin, if you can save me time and effort by sharing your skills and hard earned experiences with me, great! That’s a win-win for both of us. You get to unload the burden of having to labor and learn for years (maybe decades) and I get to do what I love. Conversely, if the thing that you love the most in your life can help short circuit my learning curve towards some end goal, I will happily trade to work with or learn from you.
Despite what we say and do and despite how hard we fight to shove our values and beliefs down the throats of others in our less dignified moments as humans, we wouldn’t want the world to have the exact same values as us. There are literally thousands of values that you benefit in some way from that you personally don’t care about enough to build skill in. You wouldn’t have movies, music or food to enjoy if everyone shared your values — assuming that you aren’t a movie director, musician or chef. You benefit, learn and grow because people have different values and skills than you. You might value the work you do as a doctor and not the dedication of your life to architectural design, yet you couldn’t enjoy architecture (as a hobbyist or enthusiast) if someone else didn’t value being an architect more than being a doctor and vice versa. Your passive enjoyment is provided for as the byproduct of someone else’s dedication to a craft they know way more about than you do.
There are more things you’re not an expert in than there are things you are an expert in. You are failing at more things in any given moment than you are succeeding at. This is totally fine because the things you are an expert in and are succeeding at can be traded — in some way — for the skills and expertise of someone who is an expert where you’re a novice and succeeds where you fail. We can fill in the gaps we all have by intentionally seeking out what Nicholas Nassim Taleb refers to as anti-knowledge. That is, rather than bolstering our ego with all the things that we know in order to raise our perception of ourselves in the pecking order of our professional and personal lives, we can turn the tables and instead pursue the recognition of all the things we don’t know. The next step then after recognizing what we lack knowledge of is identifying and forming relationships with those that can provide us with that knowledge. And we can enjoy the act of sharing what we know with them and grow mutually together.
So you may not be an expert in your body and what it takes to get what you want out of it. Totally fine. Find someone to align yourself with that knows what you don’t. Then find out where their knowledge stops and yours begins and offer to share! None of us exist in a bubble, sorry. You don’t know everything. Neither do I. I hope I never do. But hopefully we can meet and exchange the greatest currency of all: experience.
Here’s to other humans!