Experience is not everything; it is the only thing

Information plays a vital role in modern life. Thanks to the internet and search engines like Google, information is freely available. Acquiring and sharing knowledge is zeitgeist, as the Germans call it. The spirit of the time. For me, gone are the days when factory owners sent their army of spies to pry on the processes of their competitors. Everything is searchable and reference-able on the internet.

This availability of knowledge has made a paradigm shift in the attributes of the average workforce. The internet makes it a level-playing field for anyone. Rejoice! Whether you are wealthy or poor, able or disabled, white or a colored person, talented or otherwise  –  you are playing at the same level with your peers. Or competitors, if you look from that perspective.

Let me explain. You are a C++ programmer by profession. You write C++ code for a living. Suppose, one day you are struck with a problem. Naturally you search for it in the internet. And the same resource is available in the internet to anyone who searches for it.

You are a doctor. You suspect something in the patient. And you can search the internet to bolster or belie your assumptions. Again, the patient himself could have looked for it if he had the experience to suspect like the doctor.

So, for us, who grew up with the internet – our calling is to become a jack-of-all-trades. From computer repairs to word-processing-software, and chess-openings to playing Solitaire;the internet provides us with the information.

So searching the internet and acquiring knowledge – will it help you to become better at your job? Well – only if you do not already know how to search the internet.  Well, for me, paradoxically, the key is just the opposite. It is called specialization. Knowledge is freely available. Google and the internet will be there tomorrow also. To contribute effectively in the workplace, you have to find your niche. You have to be better at a particular craft than anyone else.

Recently, I saw a programmer job with this line. “Please apply only if are able to code without the help of the internet.”

Whether it is computer programming or graphic design, content writing or chip-design, rocket science or medical research, the key is focus and practice. In the end, all the hours you spent on practice will show up on your work. Work hard, work smart, and work long on your skills.

Just as the man in the audience told the great musician after a concert, “I’ll give my life to play like that”; the musician replied. “I did”.

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