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On Your Way To The Top Don't Feed The Minions

I open my in box each morning and among the myriad emails are a special sub group of messages that cajole and coerce me into opening them with interesting headlines like “Check out this”, “Good Information”, or my favorite this morning, “Bold and Badass”. No joke! Each of these comes with the promise to change my professional life in amazing and profound ways. So I thought, What great foder for a Blog!

It’s been fashionable for some time now for sellers of software and purveyors of programs to entice the aspiring professional to invest in crash courses to learn a new skill or technique at a rapid pace. I don’t know about your email in box but mine is flooded lately with special one time discounted offers to learn this or that and become at least proficient, if not an outright expert, at a nuance of my chosen profession and craft at a seemingly unrealistic pace.

I understand the desire to jump into the deep end. Who doesn’t dream of swimming with the perceived big fish, turning out amazing work and results that will astound? The appetites of most people wishing to purchase the answers to the skills and abilities needed to reach the next level of professional nirvana is often insatiable. And this is why it’s a proven formula for success. Not so much to the purchaser of said crash courses promising perfection but to the minion creators and sellers of those courses.

I’m a sucker for a good software program and have purchased enough sleekly packaged zeros and ones to reach the moon and back, probably twice over. The problem is the learning curve can be as steep as trying to climb the slopes of Mount Everest on a stormy day. Which, I’ve been told, shouldn’t be attempted by a novice. But here I am, new program loaded up and ready to go, with no clue as to which direction I should begin to climb. But, it looked so easy in the videos. With their promise of

immediate satisfaction and outstanding results. As my eyes begin to glaze over and the reality of the situation becomes painfully apparent I move on and back to the programs and procedures I’m familiar with, placing the latest shiny new program to the side, perhaps to visit at a slower time in my schedule but more than likely not.

So, out of frustration I begin to pick through the pile of inbox emails seeking out that one offer I remember seeing, that one crash course on learning about the software, technique, process or procedure to get me to the next level, only to discover half way through the purchased course that it’s no more and perhaps less easy to comprehend or implement than the initial pretty bobble I purchased in the first place. Sadly many seem to be lightly veiled fluff pieces for needy personalities who don’t have much else to offer. Either that or tech types who are really nice and know their stuff, just not how to effectively deliver it in an easily understandable way to people like me.

If any of this sounds familiar to you then here’s something that might be of help in bringing you back to the reality of the situation. Those crash courses are a great sales tool for those who are directing them to those of us who wish to continue to improve our creative craft. They’re often not such a great tool for learning. At least not in my case. Perhaps your experience has been different. If so, I applaud you. My experience as a mentor and teacher of creative tools and techniques in my chosen craft is that many people need hands on help with answers to their specific questions, not the often simplistic ones that are answered, perhaps incompletely or even wrongly in a crash course.

Lets be real here. Anyone who has worked their heart and soul to the bone in order to perfect their craft and develop a unique style or level of mastery knows that this doesn’t come easy, or cheaply, or dare I say quickly. An aspiring professional can’t expect to purchase the tools, read a book, watch a few videos and go to a trade show or two and believe that this is going to prepare them for their chosen profession. Only time spent on the job, good old OJT, as we used to call it, can fill in the creative and technical gaps any person experiences on their path to creative proficiency. Higher education can provide great theory but not experience. Nothing can take the place of the honest hard work found in actual experience.

The fact is proficiency doesn’t often come quickly and anything beyond basic success arrives even slower. If you truly have a passion for your craft and profession expect that it will take more time than you wish it would before you can honestly say that you have reached the level you desire. The best thing you can do to reach that level is first, learn the basics inside out, upside down and backwards, Ignore the claims of the quick fixes and promises of those who say they’ll get you their faster. We all learn at our pace, not someone else’s. If you have the opportunity and the finances to do so , hire someone who is willing to honestly show you the ropes on your climb up those steep storm swept slopes of whatever professional Mount Everest you’ve chosen to traverse. And then, when you get to the top, look back and give a hand to the person following you. They’ll thank you and remember you for it, which is one element in how you create a good legacy.

If you enjoyed this audio blog please let me know. If you have questions or comments please do share them. I can be reached by email at and I’d be absolutely delighted if you’d contribute to the forum on this website. Please consider becoming a member. It doesn’t cost you anything if you do. And, if you like what I share, perhaps you’ll throw something in the tip jar while you’re here. It's on the home page, upper right hand corner. I'd love it if you'd buy me a coffee!

Until next time. Shall we?

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