🤯Unknown Unknowns #65 - The Problem with Online Courses
Hot take: Online courses don't solve every problem.
I'm a big proponent of online courses. It opened the door to a lot more possibilities for me. When I left my job, I saw two alternatives: find another job, or start a startup. One I hated, the other seemed like a huge bet with a small probability of success. The online course world opened my eyes to an infinite array of possibilities to make a living. They all require one thing: providing value to someone else.
At first glance, online courses teach you a skill that you use to provide value. But the skill itself isn't enough. You need to give yourself permission and you need to experiment.
When I left my job, I didn't think I had anything to offer. Finance is a zero sum game and I didn't think my skills translated outside of that world.
When I learned skills through courses, I still didn't feel that I could use them. I had skills but I wasn't giving myself permission to use them. Imposter Syndrome is when you feel like you're faking your way through life.
The cure to Imposter Syndrome is experimentation. Trying things out, figuring out your unique approach creates value. Learning through iteration.
Going back to my hot take, online courses teach you skills but they rarely grant you permission and they rarely teach you to experiment. This is only something you can do for yourself by taking an active mindset. I'm going to be exploring this concept more in the future.
Venkatesh Rao writes about the danger of allowing yourself to be defined by extrinsic frames. If you accept other people's definitions, you're limiting yourself to what they deem possible. The reason some people accomplish herculean tasks is because what looks hard for other people may be easy for you.
The path of least resistance for you looks like grit to others. The last Write of Passage, I gave feedback on over 150 essays over 5 weeks. Most people said that was crazy, but it was easy to me. I enjoyed reading the essays and helping people develop their ideas. But if I listened to other people, I wouldn't have attempted it.
I am advocating the view that if you find that what you are doing is ridiculously hard for you, it is the wrong thing for you to be doing. I maintain that you should not have to work significantly harder or faster to succeed today than you had to 50 years ago. A little harder perhaps. Mainly, you just have to drop external frames of reference and trust your internal navigation on a landscape of your own strengths. It may look like superhuman grit to an outsider, but if it feels like that inside to you, you’re doing something wrong.
From my friend Matthew Villwock, Martha Graham writes about the importance of taking action:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
A meme from Arrested Development on taking action.
Questions, suggestions, complaints? Email me me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feedback welcome.
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Leaving you in peace,