Let’s Stop Hating on Experts, Shall We?

One of my favorite moments of all time was at a roundtable with Esther Perel.

There were 10 of us and this guy raises his hand and asks how he can be a better husband to his wife who’s pregnant because he knows that when you’re pregnant your brain changes and he’d like to support her.

Perel lays into this guy like nothing I’ve ever seen. Arguably the greatest intellectual ass whopping of all time.

You know how in your head, when someone’s being an asshole, you tell them off #likeaboss, but in real life you sound like a babbling idiot and leave out all the important things you wanted to say?

Perel is like the person you are in your head but in real life.

“Do you know what it means to ‘change your brain?’” She quips in her indistinguishably awesome accent.

“If you look at a flower your brain changes,” ok I’m not sure if she said that because I was too busy pulling my jaw up from the floor but she said something like that before launching into a diatribe on how the brain works.

It went something like: it’s a logical fallacy to assume a “brain changing” is a negative thing. Your brain is constantly changing, making new connections and losing old ones. “Changes your brain” is effectively an empty statement that we use in headlines as a fear monger.

(Though he was asking for a way to support his wife, which sounds nice, he was actually validating a false stereotype that women who are pregnant are off-their-rockers and aren’t the same person you married. Perel schooled him by destroying the underlying premise of his question and offered him a new one.)

Mic dropped. Winner declared.

It’s no accident, Perel is a professional. She practiced and taught for 20+ years before anyone even knew her name. She’s a clinical psychotherapist trained in psychodynamic and family systems theory (and if you don’t know what that means never EVER use the word “serotonin” in your presentations on marketing).

Check out her CV from 2011. It’s 19 pages long. This woman’s got enough qualifications to choke a horse! (that’s a weird Texan expression, but I feel like it works here)

There’s a reason we value credentials. Because for the last 100+ years they meant something. To graduate from a great school, train at the best institutions, have decades of experience – it meant something. It meant you were Esther Perel.

Today, we’ve figured out how to rig the system, like how to engineer a bestseller or how to get media badges even if we haven’t earned them. We all know someone with “20 years of experience” who isn’t qualified to tie his shoe. All that expression means now is you “managed to not get fired for 20 years.”

We’ve stripped expertise of its prestige.

To add insult to injury we looooove a college drop out. Tell us you’re self-made and we’ll put you on podcasts for the rest of your life! Bonus points if you’re dyslexic or were $400k in debt, but now you’re not. #selfmadebitches

We love the story that everything is achievable by anyone. You don’t need credentials, there’s no more gatekeepers – RUN FREE YOU GUYS!!! We can do ANYTHING!!!

Wanna be an expert?

Get results. BOOM. EXPERT!

Well, now hold on a second.

This is where it gets dicey. If you lost a bunch of weight, you are not an expert in “weight loss.” You’re someone who’s successfully lost weight. Mazel tov, that is awesome, but you’re still not an expert. You’re an executor.

An executor is someone who does the thing. They’re the ones in the arena, showing up, getting their asses kicked, and getting back up. It’s brave and valiant and I created a whole community to support those kinds of people.

An expert is different.

An expert does the grueling terrible painful work of knowing a subject so intimately it becomes a part of who they are, not what they’ve read. Experts do the boring work. The stuff we like to skip over.

It’s easy to love physics when you’re watching Cosmos. It’s a lot harder to love physics when you’re coding and doing regression analyses all day long. And if you don’t know what either of those things are then, bravo – my point. (tbh I don’t know if you have to code anything in physics, which, again, proves my point).

There’s a reason you have to go to school and endure years of training and a bazillion tests and licensing to be worthy of the title “expert.”

In my piece last week, I referenced the shortcomings of this training and formal education. But let me be clear:

There is value in a formal education, training, and being a professional.

My experience is mine. It is not justification for you to hate on psychology or drop out of school.

There are two ways to fix a system you see that’s broken:

  1. From the inside.
  2. From the outside.

I’m in that second camp. My limited set of skills is best for the world of online business and content. But there are plenty of incredible people working tirelessly to fix the system from within it, many of them my friends from grad school who persevered where I couldn’t.

Every system has it’s problems. Online business is RIPE with bullshit that turns people off, but it’s my favorite flavor of bullshit and it doesn’t dissuade me, it motivates me. That’s how a lot of people feel who operate from within their professions.

Y’all, if you give me one more, “You don’t need a degree! Just do the thing!” imma punch you.

Sure, you don’t need to be “certified” in Twitter to teach your clients how to use it. But when you start talking about health, law, finance, or anything besides Twitter then we’re talking about due diligence.

Picasso was a classically trained painter before he created cubism. Modern dance grew out of classically trained ballerinas. All great rebels (with lasting impact) did their due diligence before staging their rebellion and transforming the system.

You need to know your fundamentals before you rebel against them. That’s the foundation of a great revolution and the basis for what creates lasting transformation. Otherwise, you’re just Tai Lopez with a bunch of books and cars you rented and you still can’t spell knowledge.

There is a reason you need a doctorate and 600 years of training to practice medicine.

Yes, medicine has problems. Yes, psychology has problems. Yes, every field has its problems. But every field is also made up of people and to fix a broken system you need good people in it, course correcting as they go and bringing up the next generation.

Degrees matter. Training matters.

There are a lot of shitty shitty programs that fail to deliver on their promise – that is true. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a degree. It means you should get in there and FIX IT.

We are creating a confederacy of dunces by insisting that education doesn’t matter. Formal education has its flaws, I’m the first to admit it (God help the school my kids go to). But that doesn’t make it invaluable.

If you’re in school, do not use my experience as a reason to drop out. You be your own judge of where you need to be to make a difference in the world.

I don’t hate psychology or psychologists or even psychiatry. And I certainly don’t hate psychologists or psychiatrists or therapists or social workers. It just wasn’t the path for me.

We need experts. We need professionals. Let’s stop encouraging each other to drop out of school or dismiss entire industries because of a bad experience.

Let’s get to work and fix the systems #likeaboss #likeaPerel

 

 

 

Get something smart in your inbox. Once a week. Mostly on Thrusdays.