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And furthermore, my son, be admonished; of making many books there is no end; and much study is weariness of the flesh. Bible- Ecclesiastes 12:12

Do you want to get something going but feel like you need lots of expertise to do so? Feeling this way, you buy books to learn things that will help you achieve your goal because you believe some level of knowledge is needed. For the time being this does not seem like a problem. However, you then begin to search online to see what the gurus are saying, and they are saying that more is required. You begin to think that what you have done is not enough so you then decide to stock up on more and more books. Then you begin to realize that your time is limited and now you decide that you need to learn about time management and spend more time looking for gurus and books to help with this dilemma. And on and on and on goes this never ending quest for perfection and well-roundedness.

As you can see from where this is going, you can continually find areas that you are not an expert in that can easily derail and push you towards seeking more advice from experts. The problem is you will never be an expert in everything so just learn enough and get started! Version 1 of whatever you are building or trying to do does not have to be perfect! As a matter of fact it will never be perfect so forget it and get started. If you keep trying to learn it all when will you actually embark on the journey to get something done?

Look at craigslist.com (some would argue that the look and feel is still version 1)… It is a multi-million dollar business built on simple principles. Craig Newmark did not waste his time trying to figure out HTML, Javascript, CSS, and web design in depth by buying an endless amount of books, going to seminars, or reading endless articles from experts. He just was passionate about an idea, built it out, and let the people decide where the product needed to go. Imagine if he had tried to be a jack of all trades and would have attempted to learn everything about server and client side development; craigslist.com would have taken much longer to launch or may have never launched at all if he would have gotten a bit discouraged learning any of the necessary components. Sometimes it is just good enough to know enough to accomplish a task. Let’s take a web development example.

Say you decide to build a site selling shirts on your own (you should probably have a partner but building it on your own is fine). You will need to know HTML at a minimum and some server side language like PHP, Python, Java, Perl or one of the many others. So how do you start? Learn enough to cover what is needed to get the product out and refine it over time. You do not need to be an expert in any of these areas to get a product out, just need to know enough to make it live and improve it over time. I have a friend that has no formal background in Computer Science or programming whatsoever and decided to make a social website for people to find information on parties and concerts (targeting the Latino market). He wanted to learn PHP and HTML/CSS/Javascript so he set out to build this site which he did and improved it over time. In a few years time, the site was grossing a few thousand a month, was elegant, and he ended up selling it for a nice six figure price (will try to post his story, name, and the site in the future if he permits it). Not so bad for a novice that learned something new and became passionate about it. He told some of my friends that he was learning as he went along and did not let his lack of knowledge discourage him or set him out on a expertise expedition. He learned what he needed to know to get enough done today, then learned the rest as he went along. This point is expressed pretty well by our friends at 37Signals in this blog.

Imagine if you needed to be an expert to be in shape? The gyms would be empty and lots more people would be overweight. “I need to learn the chest chisel pump from so and so in order to build my chest so I will delay the gym until I learn from this expert”  This is silly non-sense. People often go to the gym with some basic understanding of what they have to do and learn as they go BY DOING. Sure they may have a trainer but they are still engaged in the act of DOING NOT READING. If you really need expertise in a certain area, hire someone who knows that area well so that the product or task you are trying to accomplish does not suffer a long delay. This is introduces parallelism into your life allowing more to be done faster (remember life is short). In this example hiring a trainer to work with you as you actually do the exercises is a good example of this parallelism – you are working out and getting expert advice at the same time as opposed to reading tons of books and magazines then working out (if you ever get to it). Tasks that are not dependent on each other should be done simultaneously to expedite the process when possible.

Reading and more reading can be a form of procrastination and can lead to anxiety. The less you do because of the less you think you know will probably result in thinking you are not capable of achieving. This will lead to getting-it-done-paralysis. Another problem that may arise is that suddenly after reading all the books and listening to all the gurus, you feel overwhelmed and are now definitely convinced that you do not have what it takes both consciously and subconsciously. This may lead to some common forms of procrastination and busy work like “finding that your place needs cleaning”, “you need to relax more after work and you do not have much time to get it done” (funny enough though you have time for the idiot box, i.e. TV), you will “start next week” or “over the weekend”, and on and on and on.

Now obviously I am not promoting this as a scientific journal but I am talking from my own personal experience and from what I have read on the web. Stop reading so much and get out and do something. Life is too short to try and become an expert at everything. Learn enough, do it, and improve it as time goes on. If you get nothing from this blog post get this! Do not worry about not being an expert now, the experts were novices at some point too but they started and overtime they got there. Make it happen and stop reading/listening and seeing others achieve – achieve yourself. Do not become someone else’s cheerleader, live you life and do what you must – achieve!

Follow me on twitter mrosario2012

Categories: Tech
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