Why I’ll Never Be an Expert

I just liked these shoes.

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition lays out 5 stages:

  1. Novice
  2. Advanced Beginner
  3. Competent
  4. Proficient
  5. Expert

Here’s the Wikipedia entry, and a summary of what is needed to advance through the levels.

Being a multipotentialite means I learn a lot of things to the stage of being Proficient, but not Expert–true expertise just takes too much time, and I’d rather learn something new.

This is fine with me, because I know that while I’ll never be a Rockstar Designer or a Rockstar Developer, and especially not an actual Rock Star….I know a heck of a lot about a heck of a lot, and that makes me Proficient at Life. Hopefully by the time I die, I’ll have racked up enough hours to qualify as an Expert. ūüôā

But it’s more than just “wanting to learn something new” that makes me move on from one thing to the next. It’s this: in any new skill or field that captures my interest, I want to¬†grasp the big picture. I want the conceptual framework. I want to go that far (Proficiency).¬†But that’s all I want. I don’t really want to use that proficiency to spend hours and hours solving problems in one particular skill.

And it’s not because I’m lazy, or because I prefer learning to doing (I really don’t).

The reason I move on is because I want a conceptual framework for¬†life itself. For the big stuff. And I want to use that framework, and those skills,¬†to solve problems that transcend one particular field or skill. I want to solve problems that live at the intersections of design, development, business, human potential/psychology, spirituality, and love. I want to solve the problems of happiness through business, the problems of spirituality through design, the problems of love through…I dunno, I haven’t got there yet. But I will!

This means I’ll never be a designer, or a developer, or therapist, or a coach, or a minister, or anything that is just one thing.

But I have designed a ton of websites, worked closely with developers on major projects–collaborating on architecture and database design–taken many personal growth workshops and several therapist and coaching trainings, and spent a whole lot of time seeking to understand the spiritual nature of the Universe. On a¬†framework level, I get all of these fields on a level deep enough to make connections within and among them. And on a practical level, lets just say I have mad ninja skills for getting shit done.

I’ll never have a neat business card label. Instead, I have¬†missions. Missions that require all of these skills. Missions that are exactly who I am and need all of these things to the fullest. And I’ll keep acquiring whatever skills and conceptual frameworks I need to make them happen. That’s what I’m about.

I have a deep respect and even awe for people who truly have achieved mastery in their fields. And there was a time when I felt a kind of comparison-envy. Or a feeling of illegitimacy if I didn’t pick something to be.

But I don’t anymore, because I¬†love¬†the way I am. I think it takes all kinds, but all things being equal, I’d rather be me. It’s just more interesting.


  1. Zern says:

    Brilliantly put!!!

  2. Chuck says:


    Excellent! Genuine and authentic.

  3. josh says:

    Hey Emma, this is so well put and so true for me!

    What you’re saying about wanting to do many things not in order to master them, but to get a conceptual framework totally rings true for me, and is a lot like my idea of adaptation, where I want to be able to take the framework of one medium / genre and apply it to solve a problem in another area / medium.

    But also that the framework from one skill / proficiency can be applied to bigger things, to life, that is a great thought!

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