Updated December 7th, 2021.
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…
Here you have a guy, who worked hard, but not too hard.
What was my secret to success? Long-term thinking.
And that is really it. My success was that I simply did not let the small day-to-day wins or 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 (lawyers, doctors, scientists, etc.). But you can get very, very far in life without those specific 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 experts?
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.
I never needed to be an expert at anything to be proficient and productive in life.
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.
Play the long game by focusing on the long-term.
Accept that you don’t know what you don’t know.
Everything else will fall into place.
P.S. I am not hating on any real experts out there. I appreciate you. I learn from you. But I recognize that I am not yet one of them, nor will I need to become one.
It’s interesting that we reach adulthood and get so easily intimidated by anything out of our comfort zone… “I can’t run a marathon because I’m not a runner,” “I can’t manage my own finances because I don’t know anything about money,” “I can’t blog because I don’t know anything about websites.” Thank goodness that kind of thinking doesn’t stop babies from trying to crawl, walk, and talk! I’m trying to learn German, and it’s terrifying because I feel like an idiot, and I don’t like feeling like an idiot. But I’m trying to remind myself that that’s the case with learning anything new. Might as well dive in and accept that it’s going to be painful, involve a lot of failure, and that I’ll eventually learn and make progress!
100% – I think the key is that you don’t need to be perfect. You just have to commit. That is most of the battle.
Showing up is way more than half the battle. The rest is about being consistent, reliable, efficient, and continuing to learn.
YES! Showing up is important, but you still do need to put the right work in on the right things. Otherwise, you are just wasting time.
I took a different path, most everything I succeeded in was a result of becoming an expert in my field. But even more than that I was great at networking together many of the world’s leading experts in the areas that would solve my problems. There is always someone out there smarter and who knows more than you do about something. Knowing who they are is just as good as being one of them. Better actually because you can have access to a dozen different experts, no way you could be an expert in a dozen fields.
Right on that is awesome! Also why you can charge the big bucks for your expertise (I saw your other thread over at Financial Samurai)!I just want everyone else to know that even if they didn’t become a Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer, Scientist, etc. they can still make it work. You just gotta keep learning every day and stick with things long enough to reap the rewards.
Every successful person has had failures that they learn from. If they did not they probably would not have been successful.