Imagine if The Beatles had listened to the A&R guys at Decca Records and given up? Because the experts who passed on them said guitar music was on the way out.
The world would never have gotten to experience Sgt. Peppers or Abbey Road or The White Album.
Imagine if J.K. Rowling had first purchased an online course taught by another expert on how to write a bestselling novel?
And because the “experts” told her you should first poll your audience and ask them what they think you should write, she finds out that young wizards and magic aren’t really hot right now.
We would never have met Harry Potter.
Imagine if Steve Jobs had listened to the experts who told him that the iPod would flop?
Or if Michael Jordan stopped playing basketball because the experts cut him from his high school basketball team?
Thankfully, there will always be those who are just too damn stubborn to listen to “good advice”. They’re the obstinate ones who never took orders well and had the audacity to listen to their own heart and follow their wild imagination. Even sometimes under the most adverse conditions.
Those crazy artists. Pity the fools.
Invasion Of The Smart People
Remember in school when the teacher would ask a really difficult question and the hands shot up in the front row? “Ooh, ooh pick me. I know that one!”
Enter the Smart people.
They were bursting at the seems to impress their teachers with their shiny new book knowledge, hoping for that gold star. Showing off their talent for studying hard and handing in their homework on time.
The Smart people went on to build businesses and run the big machine. Their expertise allowed them to rise up and become the authorities in their fields.
The Smart people did well.
Meanwhile, the girl in the back row, slumped down in her chair with the hoodie pulled down over her face. Doodling cosmic unicorns and poetry on her notebook. She was the problem student. The guidence counselors spoke many times with her parents. The school didn’t know what to do with her.
Her teens were filled with turmoil and her future was very much uncertain.
But fear not.
She goes on to become a singer. She will write her own songs, rise up and become the voice of her generation. She will joke one day about her school days in interviews, back when the experts were stumped. She will answer the question of how to stand out.
This is how it goes with visionary artists.
Smart people become authorities.
Artists change the world.
A Sea Of Experts
Today, Smart people dominate the online world.
Hell, you need a Ph.D to even apply at Google.
These guys really are the experts. Or at the very least, they’re really smart.
And then there are the more questionable experts who, by way of simply growing up with the internet, learned how to tame this wild new beast. They lived, ate and breathed the internet and figured out how to navigate the digital universe. They saw how the outsiders were clueless to how this new machine operates.
They saw an opportunity.
For a small fee, they would sell you a cure for whatever ails you right now. Mostly some version of “do nothing at all and get rich quick while you sleep”. You know the type.
They graduated from the dark alleys of late night cable access channels and bad infomercials to digital prime time. They throw around phrases like Massive traffic and six figure income They used to have names for folks like these. Snake oil salesmen. Charlatans. Hucksters.
Now they call them Internet Marketers.
But then there are the Smart people. The good experts.
They actually have a conscience. They will also teach you things. But with real value. How to get more traffic, dominate social media, write better copy, launch a successful eBook campaign, get out of debt.
Things people are dying to know and will happily pay for.
These Smart people are dedicated, dilligent, well read, well researched, hard working. Goal oriented. They’re ahead of the curve. They build and they ship. They listen to their audiences. They refine their products.
They will coach you. They will train you. They create online courses. They overdeliver on their content. They provide real value to their customers.
Some of them do very well.
But here’s the thing. They can’t tell you how to become the next Jeff Bezos. Or Mark Zuckerberg. Or Jimi Hendrix. Or Martin Scorcese.
Experts Look Good On Paper
Visionaries have spotty resumes.
The artists that change the world never fit too well into the slots we’ve defined for the typically successful people in society.
Albert Einstein couldn’t even score a gig as a junior professor for something like fourteen years after he was out of school. Yet, he’s one of the very few human beings where that all-too-often abused term, genius, actually applies.
Steven Speilberg was rejected three times from the USC School Of Theater, Film and Television before finally dropping out of the school that did accept him to become a director.
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a television reporter because she was “unfit for TV”.
Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime. For very little money. To a friend.
We all know what each of these visionaries went on to accomplish.
There Is No Roadmap
What the experts can never tell you is how they did it. There’s no roadmap. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s bullshit. If you were to follow in their exact footsteps you would never end up in the same destination.
You can learn from their stories. You can practice the methods they used to hone their craft. You can learn about the struggles they endured. But you can never know what it was that drove them to continue until they met with destiny. Or what exact combination of circumstances led to their ‘Aha’ moment.
In his bestselling book, Ignore Everybody, cartoonist/blogger Hugh MacLeod tells us that everyone has their own personal Everest they must try and climb at least once in this life. The summit of our potential.
For failing, he says, you would be forgiven. For not trying, however, you will have to one day face the harshest of regrets on your deathbed. That you had greatness in you but didn’t believe it enough to go for it. And that’s a bitter pill to have to swallow.
Gonna Take You Higher
On that journey to our highest summit, the experts have their place.
They are the sherpas who guide us on the path. They point us in the right direction. They can show us how to avoid the pitfalls and the tricks to survive the difficult twists and turns.
But they can only bring us so far.
To that place where the trail ends. Beyond that, they can only point to a place high up in the clouds. To get there you have to blaze your own trail.
Beyond those clouds lies the summit of your imagination.
There are no shortcuts and no markers to that summit.
All you have is your faith. Not the religious kind. But that tiny voice within that tells you to keep going when everything in front of you is trying to knock you down.
The voice in your heart.
The journey has risks. You could fail. You could lose everything. But the rewards far outweigh the risks, no? Don’t you owe it to yourself and the world to see it through?
How Failure Leads To Success
Michael Jordan had this to say about the journey:
“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Listen to the experts if you must.
Some of them offer good advice. But where they stop you must continue on.
This is why you skipped class. This is what you see in those halcion daydreams. The thing the world didn’t know it needed until you built it.
Feel around in the dark.
Find the switch.
Shine your light!