Expertise takes a lot of work

When I was 19 years old, I went to a rock climbing gym for the first time. I had a lot of fun, but I also felt like it came somewhat naturally to me. I enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of it, and I picked up the technique pretty quickly.

I became obsessed.

Five or six days out of the week, I was in that gym, climbing until my hands were raw and sometimes blistered. Most of my social life existed within the walls of that gym and I lived and breathed rock climbing for almost two years.

One day, I quit going.

I had hit a plateau in my improvement, and it wasn’t easy anymore. I had to work harder in order to continue improving. So I lost interest.

One of my least favorite characteristics is my tendency to abandon things that become difficult for me. It’s something that I have done since I was a child. I was naturally good at something, but when I would get to where natural talent no longer helped, I would just stop doing it.

I never worked hard at something to bridge that talent-mastery gap.

This led me to an existential crisis.

A few years ago, I realized I lacked expertise in anything. I was a decent photographer, a decent videographer, a decent musician, a decent writer, but I couldn’t claim mastery over any skill because I hadn’t put the work in. I had reached the talent plateau and stopped there.

Being 28 years old and realizing that I wasn’t an expert in anything led me to an existential crisis. I thought, “What do I have to show for myself?” I was a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

When I realized this, I took some time to figure out what my future would look like. I looked back at the previous ten years of my life and asked myself, “Out of everything I’ve done, what is the common factor? What am I great at?”

The answer to that question matters less in this article than the realization that despite being great at that thing, I still had room for growth. I still needed to get better at it.

We have to put in the work.

We all have natural talents that can carry us very far in life. However, those natural talents will only carry us so far before our work ethic and willingness to practice, repeat, and focus on our weaknesses is the only thing that can take us to the next level.

Realizing this has transformed my entire perspective on facing challenges. I know that, if I want to be a better writer, I need to write more. If I want to be a better photographer, I need to take more pictures. If I want to be a better marketer, I need to learn more about marketing.

I also need to look for guidance and challenge my existing notions and perspectives. I need to consult experts and learn from them. I need to be humble about my knowledge so that I can be open to absorbing others’ knowledge.

Whether it’s a marketing skill, an artistic outlet, or anything else, becoming an expert takes work and practice. It requires identifying the weaknesses and working them out until everything improves as a whole.

I wrote this for myself.

While I hope this newsletter provides you, the reader, with inspiration and value, I have to admit that I wrote this article for myself. I still have so much to learn and improve on, and I constantly have to remind myself that it takes work to get there.

Consider this my commitment to putting in the effort to improve my writing, my photography, my marketing mind, and myself. Will you join me?

Tweet at me with your own statement of commitment to improving something and let’s keep each other accountable!

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