going out of your depth

In inspiration, learning, motivation, Unreal Collective by Jay Clouse

I felt really dumb this week.

Every now and then, I find my way into an event that makes me feel like a total fraud. And this week that was the first annual Capital Camp.

Capital Camp is put on by a couple big names in the finance world — Patrick O’Shaughnessy (host of the Invest Like the Best podcast and CEO of an asset management firm) and Brent Beshore (founder of adventur.es and author of the Messy Marketplace).

To be honest, it wasn’t something I even would’ve known about or been interested in if not for Eric and our podcast.

If you clicked the link above, you’ll notice it wasn’t a cheap ticket — but it promised to bring together a relatively small group (about 200) of super smart and interesting people, so I took the leap. I’m a big fan of paying for access to people you know you may want to collaborate with.

The crowd did not disappoint. Everyone I met was sharp and had a fascinating story, whether they were a co-founder of one of the biggest blogs on the planet, a former ticket broker, or an investor in the newest wellness clubs in New York City.

And then the actual programming started. And it was nerdy — I’m talking about historical performance of asset classes, the revenue multiples paid for certain types of business in private equity…

All this to say, I felt pretty insecure.

I didn’t even really know what “equity securities” were, let alone how to trade them.

On the 9-hour drive to Capital Camp, I listened to a lot of podcasts. And in one of those interviews, the guest talked about imposter syndrome and how freeing it was when he realized that expertise or being an “expert” is relative — not an absolute measurement.

If you’re teaching someone the ropes of photography, you don’t need to be the world’s most respected photographer to provide a ton of value — you need to have more knowledge and experience than the person you’re teaching.

And after I got out of my own head about how relatively little I knew about different asset classes, I realized people were asking me a lot of questions about starting a business, running a podcast, and creating online courses.

Expertise is relative.

I had fallen back into the comparison trap and forgot about experience ladders.

But in reality, I was just pushing myself outside of my comfort zone.

It’s good when we go outside of our depth. By learning about the work other people do well, we can take new perspective on our own. And not only that, but it can push us to be better in our own work.

In the famous presentation on company culture from Netflix, Reed Hastings said that a “Great Workplace is Stunning Colleagues.”  When you’re around people who inspire and challenge you, you’re both happier and more likely to be successful.

Seek out that discomfort and allow yourself to be the dumbest person in the room. You can always find another room where you’re the smartest, but that won’t help you grow.

PS: I can help


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