The Perils of Expertise

July 24, 2017

Most of us strive to be good at something (or two things, or more). Some of us strive to be great. Being very good at something can be fun and rewarding. Yet there are perils.

Regardless of natural ability, achieving any measure of expertise requires training over a long period of time. Some say 10,000 hours, though in my opinion it depends on how you use them. After so much time, you develop certain mental habits, unconscious tendencies, which are a critical part of the foundation of your expertise.

Ironically, though, these same habits can make you unhappy when applied in other aspects of your life, and it can be extremely difficult to turn these habits off when you’re not conducting the activity that requires them. As a result, you end up with a list of traits that can make you both good at your expertise and unhappy in life.

These traits vary, depending on the type of expert (athlete, surgeon, marketer, physicist, musician, etc.) Take, for example, the business lawyer—an expert (one hopes) at negotiating deals and reviewing and drafting legal contracts…

How To Be a Great Business Lawyer and an Unhappy Human

  1. Dwell on the unknowable future (“What if this happens? Or this? Or this?”)
  2. Assume the worst, in all its hypothetical permutations (“Are we protected if things go bad in this way? Or in this way?”)
  3. Constantly worry over the details.
  4. Be defensive.
  5. Second-guess yourself and others.
  6. Focus on pitfalls, vulnerabilities and flaws, rather than on what is good.
  7. Be afraid to make mistakes.

Type A? Positive?

July 19, 2017

“I’d like you to take a deep breath right now and ask yourself this question: ‘Would it be all right with me if life got easier?'”

~Maria Nemeth, from The Energy of Money

Body vs. Taste Buds

June 24, 2017

Ingredients in my current smoothie/health shake:

  1. Water
  2. Soy Milk
  3. Frozen raspberries
  4. Banana
  5. Protein Powder (pea)
  6. Avocado (or olive oil)
  7. Vanilla extract
  8. Cinnamon
  9. Turmeric
  10. Black pepper (apparently needed to “activate” the turmeric)
  11. Ginger
  12. Cayenne powder
  13. Moringa powder
  14. Wheat germ

Things it doesn’t taste as good as:

  1. Cupcake
  2. Toasted bagel with cream cheese
  3. Bacon

See Hamilton

June 17, 2017

ham-FBJust wow.

Since last I saw you

January 19, 2017

Things that have changed:

  1. I drink coffee.
  2. Dr. Sarno cured my headaches.
  3. I’m getting grey hairs.

Things that haven’t:

  1. I think of you
  2. I root for you
  3. I love you.

Only a bully beats himself up

January 1, 2017

“Were we to meet this figure socially, as it were, this accusatory character, this internal critic, we would think there was something wrong with him. He would just be boring and cruel. We might think that something terrible had happened to him. That he was living in the aftermath, in the fallout of some catastrophe. And we would be right.”

~Adam Phillips on the internal self-critic, from “Against Self-Criticism” in Unforbidden Pleasures

Personal Cloud Atlas (Winter Version)

December 16, 2016

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“Don’t walk away from pancakes”

October 23, 2016

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Be weird.

September 6, 2016

besillybekind

Paint Night

August 13, 2016

What you can do in a one-night paint class when a good instructor demonstrates how to do it step by step. Cheating? Maybe. I’m okay with it. In the spirit of historically prosaic titles for great works of fine art, I call it “Red Fox and Birches”.

Red Fox and Birches


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