Learn from the experts. You’ll never live long enough to learn it all yourself.
If you read blogs like this, you’re probably the kind of person who likes to figure things out for yourself.
Maybe you taught yourself how to drive stick or lay tile.
Perhaps you assemble furniture without the instructions. “Away from me, glossy drivel! I need none of your so-called help. I will master this bookshelf using only my own wits and this screwdriver.”
A hard-won victory is sweet indeed. But sometimes, our determination slows us down. While we insist on figuring things out for ourselves (even when we’re clearly stuck), the other guy is already done. He read the instructions from the beginning, and his new IKEA bookshelf now stands gleaming in the corner of his living room. He sips a beer, taking in its clean lines and simple-yet-elegant design.
Self-sufficiency is great, but it can’t be our only strategy. Here are two big reasons to learn from the experts.
1. There’s Always a Recipe
We’re unique, right?
Yup. Sure are.
Our life situations, though, are not unique. There are no new problems out there, and there is a proven solution for each one.
I find this really hard to remember.
So do my students. Picture this: A college freshman sits in her academic advisor’s office, close to tears. She just got her calculus test back, and derivatives are eating her lunch. She thinks she’s not cut out for math (or worse, dumb).
She’s afraid she’s the only student in her class struggling with derivatives. She’s not. She’s not even the first one in my office today. I mean, the whole class got their test back. There are recipes for understanding calculus, but college freshmen often don’t know that.
We all tend to forget about recipes (even seasoned, savvy 30-somethings such as yours truly).
The Blog Recipe
A few months back, I shelled out a couple hundred bucks for a blogging course.
I was ambivalent about the whole thing. The blogger selling the course was Jeff Goins, and he seemed to know what he was doing. But still . . . two hundred bucks. If it was a waste of money, I was not going to be happy with myself.
The course was easily worth twice what I paid.
I gleaned many useful tips, and I’m still working through some of the denser modules. What struck me the most, though, was the overarching idea:
There is a basic recipe for writing a blog that people want to read.
That had not occurred to me, dude. I figured great writers just wrote, and the readers magically appeared. Not so. There’s a recipe (several, actually).
Even when you can’t tell, there’s a recipe.
2. We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
The expert knows the mistake you’re going to make before you even make it.
In 2011, I decided to learn guitar. I made fast progress due to my musical background, and soon I was working on barre chords. These nasty buggers involve fretting (pressing down) all six strings with your left index finger, and they require real hand strength.
After a couple weeks of practicing barre chords, the inside of my left wrist started to hurt. It got steadily worse.
I set up a lesson with the best guitar teacher I knew in town, Lynn McGrath. Lynn is a monster player and a knowledgeable teacher. When I mentioned my wrist pain, she watched me play a barre chord.
“Yeah, you’re squeezing the neck of the guitar way too hard, and that’s straining the tendon below your thumb. Instead of squeezing, let the weight of your arm pull your index finger down against the strings.”
She fixed me in like 2 minutes, but I had to take a few weeks off to let the tendinitis settle down. If I had set up occasional lessons from the beginning, I could have avoided the whole situation.
Figuring everything out for yourself takes a long time because it takes you down dead end streets. An expert knows the neighborhood.
Why not roll down your window and ask for directions?