Don’t be intimidated by those who know more than you do!
I was going through some old e-mails recently, and something hit me. When I first started learning how to improve athletic performance, I thought I knew a ton to begin with. The quote that really reached out and slapped me in the face (and made me slap myself again) was something I said when seeking the advice of a running coach about how to set up a good training program. “I know 10 times more than my high school coach,” I said. This 10-fold greater knowledge came from a base of about two running books, and a year’s subscription to Runners World Magazine. Hmmm…I bet my coach knew at least as much as I did from experience alone.
A deeper (pseudo-psychological) self-analysis got me thinking that I used that rationale as a defense mechanism to make me feel smart. I would even shy away from discussion with much wiser people via internet message boards. In actuality, I was missing out on a great deal of knowledge from shutting out the advice of those who had a lot of experience or knowledge that I certainly didn’t have at the time. When I finally let go of my ego, I began to learn so much more because I had no fear of feeling appearing stupid during conversations with minds brighter than my own.
Now, with a few years of growing up behind me, I’ve noticed people shutting out very intelligent people (professors, authors, a random man sitting next to you on the train) to preserve their feeling of high intelligence. Soon, you may kick yourself for making that error.
Lesson Learned: Throw out your ego and pick the brain of anyone and everyone in the field in which you desire to excel. These people will not make fun of you for lacking knowledge; they were in your position at one time, too.