It’s important to know what you don’t know. I shared last year about two “intermediate” website developers who are actually miles apart in terms of skill. One underestimated their skills, while the other overestimated theirs.
In the case of “Alex” in that post, he was someone that really understand where their perimeter of knowledge ended, and just how much was beyond it. It was a good example of Warren Buffett’s idea of the “circle of competence”:
“You have to stick within what I call your circle of competence. You have to know what you understand and what you don’t understand. It’s not terribly important how big the circle is. But’s terribly important that you know where the perimeter is.”
It’s ok if you don’t know something, as long as you know you don’t know it. I’d rather work with someone that has a small (but well-defined perimeter) over someone that knows more but doesn’t really know where the edge is.
In fact, someone that can clearly admit a small perimeter of knowledge in a given subject is a rare thing, as many people are taught to hide that info and pretend to know more. It’s like the idea of being wrong more often; if you know where your perimeter is, you can do work to expand it. On the other hand, if you pretend you already know everything, you’re in for a bad time.
I can point to areas in my life where my perimeter is very small. For example, if our furnace isn’t working I can tell the technician that the breaker is still on, power is getting to the unit, and the pilot light is lit, but that’s about it. The rest is beyond my perimeter, and I’m likely to make things worse if I start unscrewing more panels and try to “fix” it.
That’s not to say you need to rely on others every time. I’d likely just call a technician to fix the furnace, but some YouTube and Google wouldn’t be bad options either. As long you know where the perimeter, you can take appropriate action to try to expand it.
Spend time to establish your perimeter, and then the work you do to expand it will be much more efficient.