Looking around our society, we can easily say that many would respect people with fancy titles rather than those with a long, demonstrated history of working experience.
It is as if having a title, degree, or license automatically downloads the needed knowledge and know-how to anyone who graduates or passes a licensure exam.
A few days ago, our TV broke down. Though I am an electronics engineer and electronics technician by title, I know it will take me some time to fix the issue.
So we took it to a technician who works and specializes in TVs. Expectedly, as soon as he opened the casing, he immediately knew the issue and fixed our appliance in no time.
Another example is the friend who designed the Rat Race Running logo. It may look simple and straightforward at first glance, but if we look closely at the process and technique that he puts whenever he works for a logo, it easily justifies whatever rate he may demand. And though he is a professional logo designer, he doesn’t have any title or degree related to arts.
This is what’s impressive with people with experience. They can triumph over any person with a title but lacks the needed skill.
What they do may look too easy, but in reality, it took years of practice and mastery to make it look that way. Unfortunately, it may seem like they were hustled by the professional for the untrained eyes.
Titles do not equate to expertise.
I believe that this is something that many people fail to understand. Not because someone has the title doesn’t mean they automatically have the expertise to back it up.
I worked with some people who had fancy titles and international certifications but still didn’t know how to do simple stuff that was initially assumed they knew.
I remember a story told by one of my professors in Engineering. He said they once had an incident in a production plant in one of the breweries abroad. They called on their engineers to look at the root cause of the problem, but they couldn’t pinpoint the issue.
So they contacted the technician who worked in their plant for more than a decade. Within that week, they had their machine up and running.
Even I can attest that though I have licenses and certifications, there are many things that I still don’t know how to do – similar to the TV incident.
Likewise, people without fancy titles and certifications can efficiently perform the required tasks given to them by sheer experience and years of practice and dedication.
Books, Google, and YouTube can’t beat experience, but they are a start.
Some companies have an ingrained learning culture. They value learning initiatives so much that they can’t ask their seniors unless there is absolutely no way to know the answer for a specific topic. The usual theme is GMG or “Google mo, g*go.”
While it can sometimes be demoralizing, still, it can be a way to start your learning initiative. Books, Google, and YouTube, are great ways to learn many skills. Though they are still not substitutes for actual hands-on experience, they can offer a jump-off point.
Practice makes progress (not perfect).
Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” talked about the 10,000-hour rule. He argues that it will take someone 10,000 hours to master a skill. While this number is highly debatable, it shows the time required before we obtain mastery.
We can be sure of progress through time, even if that progress is incremental. Progress is progress.
Similar to what James Clear tells about the power of marginal gains. As long as we work to improve on something day in and day out, it is impossible not to gain a certain level of expertise. Even a 1% improvement every day will surely bring immense improvement.
Gaining titles and accolades is excellent, but it should never be a free pass to look down on others who have none. Sometimes, those people may be more experienced in handling things than us.
Work on your titles, certifications, and licenses, but also make sure to work for the necessary skills to accompany them.
Learning does not end with a piece of paper. It is a life-long journey that you’ll be willing to take.
“Once you stop learning, you start dying”Albert Einstein
The featured image is drawn by c.Ray. Follow him on IG @crayzrandom
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