Are you an expert or an advanced beginner?

I meet a lot of experts everyday.  Particularly when it comes to the social Web.  Merlin Mann‘s video about the difference between a true expert and an advanced beginner really hits home in this age of self-proclaimed experts.  His argument?  That many on the Web ignore the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. The premise of which is that learning more than a novice doesn’t make you an expert.  Instead it makes you an advanced beginner.  And advanced beginners either know that they are still beginners or think that they are experts.  It’s the second group you have to look out for.

Mann says that all of these advanced beginners mean that you have to be skeptical of the advice you take about who you are, what you think and what you think your options are when it comes to making decisions based on your incomplete information set.

I agree. There’s a big difference between being an expert and an advanced beginner.  With the pace of change and new tools launched ever-increasing it’s easy to be just out ahead of the novices; but it doesn’t make any but a very few true experts.

This idea also dovetails with my post about building expertise vs. building knowledge.  For an advanced beginner it’s easy to write a post on “7 ways to play better piano” and seem like an expert, and reading “7 ways to play better piano” may make you feel like you’re a more knowledgeable piano player, but are you really better before you actually sit down and put in the work to get there?

Me? I’m updating my business card to say “advanced beginner” and celebrate that I’m working towards something meaningful and valuable through the process of it all.

Enjoy the video:

Makebelieve Help, Old Butchers, and Figuring Out Who You Are (For Now) from Merlin Mann on Vimeo.

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