“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful after all.” Michelangelo
“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.” –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
One of the advantages of having an online course is that it increases your expertise—both perceptually and actually. Perceptually, when you are in the role of the instructor, you are automatically granted credibility. And by teaching a topic, it forces you into increasing your real-world expertise. It forces you to answer questions that you may have long since forgotten that to remain cutting edge in your knowledge.
The mark of a pro is the ability to make something difficult look effortless. Have you ever watched a “craftsman” of a certain profession and thought, “I could do that” only to try it and decide that maybe you were a little hasty in your assessment?
When I was 15, I watched the person cutting my hair very closely—and mentally took notes of every swish of those scissors. Afterwards, I was sure “I can do this.” I came home and told my little sister that I now knew how to cut hair. Why should she pay someone else when I had this down? She naively consented. Two decades later and she still will not discuss the topic of hair with me.
Smart professionals make the difficult look easy.
Have you ever heard the story of the high-paid consultant to NASA when it was in its infancy? Critical electronic lines were not working and in spite of everyone’s best efforts, no one could get them working again. They finally called in “the guru.” He went in, looked around, tapped once, and up came the lines.
He sent them a bill for $50,000. They immediately complained. What? A simple tap of the lines and you charged us $50,000? His reply was, “I charged you $1,000 for the tap and $49,000 for knowing where to tap.”
Olympic Ice Skaters
One of my favorite parts of any Olympics is the ice-skating. The skaters glide so beautifully and effortlessly. A simple few minutes of flips and spins could catapult them to fame and a place in their sport’s history. All that for fewer than ten minutes! And yet, we all know that those ten minutes represent hours and hours and hours and years and years and years of grueling hard work.
I remember someone once asked me astonished, “How much money do you make an hour?” I dodged the question, but I knew they already knew. I also knew they were looking at the $1,000 tap and the 10 minutes of ice skating. It created a much skewed picture.
So what separates you—a smart pro—from a not-so-smart pro. You make the difficult look effortless and you can see through knotty problems quickly. And these four essentials are a part of your every-day life.
1. Strong Knowledge Base:It’s essential you know the fundamental knowledge of your profession, are current, and are immersed in the production of knowledge in your field. It’s the building block of experience and your course.
2. Crafted Experience:It’s not one year’s experience repeated ten times, but ten years experience with each year improving and learning and experimenting to hone your craft. (You may be a pro in less or more time, but you get the principle.)
3. Developed Instinct:This develops after a lot of years. It’s where you leave “the book”—the theoretical, the academic, and “go with your gut.” But remember a pro develops their “gut” through years of trial and error. It’s the educated guess—the trained instinct—like a skilled baker. A skilled baker, swishing his hands through batches of dough, can notice as little as a 2% variance in the “stickiness” or consistency. Cloth feelers in textile industries compare the qualities of cloth by trained touch.
Your instincts can become so well honed you do much of what you do on an unconscious level. There is even a term for this level of competence: “unconscious competent.” As Madame De Girardin said, “Instinct is the nose of the mind.” You “get it” intuitively.
4. Distinct Style:Being a pro is knowing your style and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. Writers call it “finding your voice.” You can never imitate style. Someone else’s style on you will come across as fake and artificial.
In the beginning, I think it’s important to mimic the best. “Try on” their styles for a while…but know that is what you are doing—“trying it on”–not trying to “be it.” Then take what’s “you” and leave the rest.
At some point, you develop confidence in your style. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: No one else can be you, but you. One popular singer and a winner of many Grammys said she attributes her success to having a good sense about what songs will work for HER. She’s clear about style.
So, to be an accomplished professional and stand out, develop knowledge, experience, instinct and style. And don’t experiment on your little sister if you value family unity.