We’re No Experts

No Expert

I’m listening to Patton Oswalt read his book (amazon affiliate link) for nerds. It’s a totally wonderful book, and his narration makes it pop up even better still. Why? Because he’s a professional actor, as well as a darned good writer. His voice for this is perfect. His reading isn’t literal to the book. He keeps adding in liner notes. Hell, Michael Stipe from REM shows up in the reading.

This comes the day after I finished reading my own new book. This comes one week after Joe and I interviewed Sean Pratt, professional audiobook reader. Sean points out in that interview that most authors can’t read their own book for crap.

Like anyone with a low self-opinion (is that all of us?), I went into recording my audiobook thinking about what Sean Pratt said. He’s right. I’m not a very great book reader. I’m a very good author. (Not great.) But I’m not an amazing book reader. I’m passable. I don’t mumble much. I speak reasonably clearly. I probably speak a little too fast. I don’t have a deep melodious voice like Julien Smith. In fact, I think I sound like Kermit the Frog. My kids also tell me that I do a great Squidward from SpongeBob.

We’re Not Experts

The Internet and computers in general have opened us all up to opportunities to do what we want. Lowered prices on all kinds of things open this up, too. In my immediate vicinity, I have an electric guitar that I can play well enough for people to say, “Oh, I didn’t know you play guitar!” I also have two prosumer video cameras that I use regularly, whether or not I know how to do that well. I have Final Cut Pro X, so I can edit things rudimentarily. I have a blog (you’re here!), so I can publish. I write books, because hey, this computer has a typewriter. I have an MP3 recorder so I could do a podcast, if I wanted (I want to, but I have run out of hours).

We are quite often given the opportunity to do something we’re not qualified to do. We often take on projects we’re not qualified to take on. I do it all the time. I will sign up for something, learn that I have no idea how to do it the way I imagine it, and then I rush to learn how to accomplish something that will make my client feel I’ve delivered value. It’s exhilarating (which I’m not an expert in spelling, but blogging software now has spell check). And yet, I have to accept that I’m not an expert.

And That’s Okay

You’re not an expert, either. But, maybe you have passion for something. I have passion for telling stories about interesting people and human-minded business. I have passion around music and noodling around on my guitar. I have passion for making better marketing happen for companies. I have plenty of passions. And these lead me to try and do and experiment and make. My passions lead me to that recording booth to record my book. My passions lead me to share with you.

And your passions will lead you to heights you shouldn’t achieve, too. Your passions will give you warmth and encouragement while you learn to achieve and do something. Your passions and your experiments and your efforts will spur you to learn more, to gain the experience you need to climb towards (but not so likely reach) that status as an expert.

Wait to be an expert? Never. Just don’t sell yourself like that, either. Instead, lead with your enthusiasm, and then make damned sure you deliver.

Let’s go be non-experts.

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