I recently listened to an older episode of the “Founders” podcast where host David Senra unpacked the book “The Vagabonds“, which was the story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip. I’ve not read the book yet (it’s on my list now), but Senra’s podcast was fantastic.
I have a few posts that will come out of that episode, but this one is based on a statement from Henry Ford about people that work for him. Ford said:
“None of our men are ‘experts.’ We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the ‘expert’ state of mind a great number of things become impossible.”
This reminded me a lot of what Ryan Holiday shared when he said:
“The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better.”
It can be very hard to properly judge our depth of knowledge in any given area. A couple of years ago I shared the story of two friends that both considered themselves to be “intermediate”-level WordPress developers, when I was quite sure that one of them had 10x the skills of the other.
However, from each of their perspectives I would have said the same thing as each of them. From the perspective of my highly-skilled friend who only considered himself to be “intermediate”, that assessment is exactly why he continues to work at such a high level. If he ever sat back and said “I did it. I’m an expert.”, he’d be sunk. Instead, he keeps working and he keeps learning, and is a huge asset to all the people that he works with.
I encourage you to check that episode of Founders, and if time and desire allow, read the full book as well.