I’m a software dev, product manager and co-founder of Hotels.ng and HNG Internship. I also dabble in embedded systems and hardware projects.

Too early an expert


It’s quite easy to be good enough at something that everyone around you praises you. For example, you can read a few books, do a couple of courses and everyone will see you as a 3D printing guru. But that’s mostly because nobody else knows anything about 3D.

In a place without a large density of engineers, it’s very easy to do this. It’s easy to claim you are good at hardware hacking, or SEO or Google Adwords, and because almost nobody knows what these things are or is good at doing them, you are instantly seen as a guru.

People will start inviting you to give talks, your peers will refer to you as ’that genius’, people will be hailing you.

You can’t stop the above from happening, but the most destructive mistake anyone can make is to actually start believing it.

It’s relatively easy to become better than the people around you at almost anything. It’s actually trivially easy. But you will never, ever be good if those people are your yardstick for your own success.

A good way to know you are stuck in being slightly better than beginners is when you tend to teach beginners, novices or people who are just starting.

If you are truly good, you will be teaching intermediates or experts. Never beginners. The biggest coaches are always training experts, never starters.

To not fall into this trap, you have to avoid interacting with beginners till you have reached the advanced level. It sounds harsh, but if you don’t do this, you will tend to compare yourself down instead of comparing yourself up. So you will see all you have achieved (which is very comforting), instead of all you have not achieved (which is much harder to look at).

Once you are at an advanced level, then you can start teaching others, and you are now teaching it much better.

I see this phenomena all too often - people looking for the praise and kudos of non-experts. They get it, and in the process condemn themselves to never become experts.

Last Modified: Dec 23, 2020