I ran a successful business for 10 years, until I Accidentally Retired.
Then, I managed to somehow, sort of, retire early.
But the honest truth is that, I am no expert.
- I am no expert in finance.
- I am no expert in business.
- I am not an expert software engineer.
- I am not an expert marketer.
- I am not an expert at managing employees.
- I am not an expert parent.
The fact is that I have no real expertise in anything.
I am good at a lot of things, but not great at any one thing.
I have a slew of failures to go along with every success.
And yet it doesn’t really matter that I am not a subject matter expert at any one thing.
Here you have a guy, who worked hard, but not too hard.
What was my secret to success? Long-term thinking. And not letting the small day to day wins/losses get in the way of the bigger picture.
You don’t need to ever become an expert
My life goes to show that you too can hit your financial and personal goals without ever becoming an expert at all.
This goes for financial matters.
This goes for professional matters.
This goes for all of life.
Sure there are certain professions that you just cannot break into without a specific degree or sets of degrees. But you can get very, very far in life without those degrees.
What is an “expert” anyway?
Let’s pause and talk about expertise for a minute anyway. Because there are a lot of so called “experts” out there.
We all may fall susceptible to this fallacy at times, that just because someone is called an “expert” that they actually are one.
Think about the talking heads on TV, twitter, TikTok and even personal financial blogs. Are the people who you think are “experts” really oozing that expertise?
Let’s examine this a bit further. For that, I turn to ESI Money who has a great series of posts where he picks apart financial experts who appear in the media, yet who do not have the chops to back it up.
In his post What Makes Someone a Financial Expert? he dives into his definition of what makes someone an expert:
Knowledge. Could be formal or informal — a college degree, some sort of training, or simply self-taught education. Doesn’t really matter how the knowledge is acquired, just that you have it. That said, I would prefer knowledge gained through experience versus knowledge acquired through study, which leads us to our next criteria…
Experience. Been through many situations, either personally or with others, learned from the events, and become increasingly more skilled as a result.
Application. Put their knowledge and experience into practice in their own lives and seen positive outcomes as a result.
I think a person needs all three qualities above to be an expert. And the more of each, the better.
So if we break it down to those three things, to be a true “expert” you need to have in-depth knowledge, experience, and real-life applications to boot.
I am still not an expert
Even though I have grown and sold a few business, I still don’t consider myself an expert.
But I never need to be an expert at anything to be proficient and productive. I am always willing to learn, and to accept that I don’t know what I don’t know.
Take investing as an example. There is no need to become an expert at investing.
I can be an excellent investor, by simply following the Boglehead philosophy and invest in Low Cost Index Funds via a three fund portfolio.
If you follow Boglehead philosophy, you will “produce risk-adjusted returns far greater than those achieved by the average investor.”
So then why would I need to become an expert investor? There is no need.
Just show up
The secret to overcoming your lack of expertise in any field, is to keep showing up.
And lastly, you want to be playing the long game. Think long-term, and realize that you don’t know what you don’t know.