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Be an amateur.
Open your laptop, open the browser and search for LinkedIn on the Internet. What is the most common denominator used in the description of people’s skills? Expert. Everybody is an expert on something, along with other pompous and resonant names that seem to say much but mean nothing.
expert makes me itchy for various reasons.
First, you’re already proclaiming that you are. And if you need to proclaim it, it’s because it doesn’t show. Second, what are you an expert at? At your experience or achievements? You worked 25 years on a machine, so you are an expert on it or did you develop the machine and therefore are you an expert on it? Third, when you use such titles, you become unquestionable. You are on a pedestal, the other is automatically inferior; therefore you are creating separation. From the top of your arrogance, you have a locked view and the label you are applying is self-limiting. Why? Have you mastered all the knowledge of a certain area? If you are open to discovering new things, then you are too closed, because you don’t grasp everything and there will always be one that has a different view.
The problem begins precisely at school. They declare that if you want a good job you must be the best.
With this in mind, what I’ve been realizing is that I don’t want to be an expert and maybe we don’t want to be experts. From the moment you become an expert in something, you stop enjoying it. For instance, you cook so well that everyone thinks you should open a restaurant. You launch the restaurant and from that moment on, you transform a flow into a weight, an obligation, a pre-established thing.
On the other side, it is so interesting to realize that amateur these days has such a depreciative label. We lose more and more the aerobics to understand the meaning of words and if we go to its etymological root, amador comes from the Latin amare, which means to love and refers to a person who likes what he does.
Embrace the amateurism, not the expertise
The truth is: when we say that someone produces amateur work, we don’t take his commitment seriously and we even label the player with little experience and poor quality. We employ this term focusing more on experience than achievement, but the truth is: when we are amateurs we are in the flow.
Thereupon, I get the impression that, as in school, in the eyes of others, wisdom is in levels and not in layers. If I have a PhD in biology, I am an expert on such matters. If I am an amateur in the study of biology, I can’t be beheld as an expert, because I do not have a label to support me. When we are experts, we create a path through levels, but our knowledge should be in layers. Because knowledge correlates with other knowledge, but when you are an expert you don’t see it. On the other hand, the more you level up, the more you funnel it, means that you are reaching for more layers, you are expanding – and that’s the opposite.
Being an expert of something should not be a self-recognizing act. If someone recognizes the value of you in some area, let it be a consequence. For you, to learn or to know more about something should be an intention. When we are defining ourselves, we are limiting ourselves, because being is not static. The aim should be to grow.
Being an expert can skew the final result because it creates an expectation on others and pressure on us. Every so often we create labels to try to defend ourselves, to try to show what we want to be but, as we’re still not sure if we are or not, we put it there to defend ourselves.
After all, we ask ourselves in certain situations: “what can I do to be taken seriously? What can I do to not be undermined?”. Especially when you are in a meeting and someone tells you: “what are you saying, I have 25 years of experience in this industry, I’m an expert!”. It can even be a defense behind which we hide ourselves, but the focus should be to know who you are, staying faithful to your principles, wanting to cheer up who you are and being ok with that. If others see that, then you are available for your intentions to be met.
If we cheered up what we really covet, then we could create amateurs with more capacity to create things together, because there would be no separation. Between peers we learn, we share. Children learn with friends, in motion. We can more easily teach friends than teach in a hierarchical position, in an expert category, precisely because there is no separation.
So, what is the solution, dear experts?
The worthiest thing an amateur can do is not want to be a professional, because he stops doing what he likes, which is to create, being on his record without pressure, enjoying spontaneity. Shouldn’t we all be amateurs in the things we like and practice?
Rather than worrying about being experts and saying that we are seeking for external recognition, we should be more autotelic. The term derives from two Greek words: auto, which means I, and telos, which means goal. This term refers to an activity that contains itself – something that is carried out, not in the expectation of a future benefit, but simply because in its realization lies the compensation.
Shouldn’t this be our goal? To create, make something and enjoy it, without a compensation or attached goal? And then if others want to see in us that expertise characteristic, let it be from outside in, not from the inside out. As a consequence.
Why? Because, coming full circle, if you must declare it, it’s because it doesn’t show.