Set the Bar Low

I was listening to an episode of Tim Ferris’ podcast, an interview with Todd McFarlane. Since I haven’t read many comic books in the last few decades, I didn’t know who he was. Todd’s a high energy, driven, no BS kind of person, so hold onto something solid before you listen.

Anyway, he said said something that struck me as completely wrong, until I thought about it. “Lower the Bar”. Something that goes against my grain.

Here’s a short clip of the much longer interview. Listen to it and see if you agree with him.

I’ve always felt that I should do things better than my competition. Whether in my own business, or when working for someone else.

A constant battle, both internally, and with others, is my desire to to master, to understand, whatever it is that I am working on.

Where it might be enough to have a superficial understanding of something, I will have a need to wrap my head around it. I’ll find a manual or article which explains a more detailed syntax, or a description of how it works. Only then will I move on to the next page, project, or whatever.

I’ve studied for certifications, where the others in my class are just “learning the questions”. Sitting in front of a computer going over a large list of questions, compiled by the training company.

They don’t actually understand the material, and they certainly won’t be able to do the job. The employer will give them the job because they have a certificate, and they’ll spend the next year(s) learning the material.

I on the other hand, brought multiple computers and networking gear, to set up a test environment in my hotel room. I reviewed each day’s material after class, and tried out each concept on my test systems.

That’s why Todd’s statement struck me. I had set the bar high, but employers had a very low one. I believed they hired for knowledge, but in reality they were just looking for a piece of paper.

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