How to become good at everything without knowing everything

How To Know Everything - Courtesy FlickrThere is a reason why interventional cardiologists require 7 years of training—the specialty is complex enough that we not only need the time to learn the nuances of the skill set required in the field but also to encounter enough situations to apply those skills. Despite such long training to become an interventional cardiologist, you (unfortunately) still have limited knowledge of other fields like general surgery.

That is okay, since you can get by in your career without knowing a whole lot outside of it. The truth is that it would be nice to be an expert at everything, but most of us don’t have the time, energy, or interest to master everything. Most people I know who know more than the average person are incredibly intelligent and likely hypomanic.

The Key To Knowing Everything is to Knowing When to Outsource Your Knowledge.

For everyone else, the key to knowing everything is learning to direct your time and energy to high-yield tasks to help you outsource your tasks. There is no universal template to follow—each one of us has different strengths, different time constraints, and different interests. For instance, you may choose replace your own car headlights to save yourself the time and money from outsourcing it to a mechanic. However, perhaps you have a screaming 3 year-old at home that you need to tend to instead. In this case, you might consider going to the mechanic anyway since your time with your kid is more valuable. In order to follow through this decision tree with the most information, you’d have to consider the following:

  1. Changing the headlight bulb on your car is easy for you, and low risk.
  2. Cost savings for doing this by yourself is huge; for minimal risk a 10 minute job for yourself can potentially save you $50 of post-tax income.
  3. You actually have some interest in tinkering with the car.
  4. You do not have more pressing matters to attend to if you were to embark on this task.

If any of the criteria above is not applicable to you, you might be better off outsourcing the task. Furthermore, if it takes you an unreasonable amount of time to obtain enough information to make that decision, you’d be better off outsourcing it.

You Are Better Off Learning Some Tasks.

Finance is a key topic where you are likely better off investing some time to acquire a baseline knowledge first. No one cares more about your money and future than you. This includes taxes, asset protection, and investing.  If you decided to outsource your finances to an advisor, your spare time would be still be well-spent to educate yourself on the basics.

Other fundamental tasks that you could manage yourself and delegate as your time becomes more valuable include cooking, cleaning, home repairs, or vehicle maintenance. I know doctors who enjoy working in the kitchen, and treat their time cooking meals as a therapeutic escape. Likewise, I know some people who would rather exercise on the treadmill instead of mowing their lawns for exercise. To each his own right?

 Your Skills Will Build Over Time.

You have a lifetime to acquire your skills and knowledge. That is the excitement of life. Chip away at the needed skills one at a time. Sooner or later, you will have either mastered that skill set or at least acquired enough knowledge to delegate.

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