Not good enough

“I’m not good enough” says the graduate to herself, shuffling her feet.  “All those uni assignments made no difference; everyone knows more than me.  Why would anyone want to listen to what I have to say?”  Surrounded by self-assured, battle-hardened colleagues, there seems an insurmountable distance to cover—but one day, she’ll surely know enough.


“I’m not good enough” said the programmer with a grimace, starting a new job at a famous company. “Seven years of work and it’s like nothing! Everyone here knows so much; how long will it take for me to know enough?”

So when is enough? Is there a line we cross when we become experts? Does ticker-tape fall from the ceiling, and the mayor of Hackertown give us a medal?

“I’m not good enough” said the veteran of fifteen years. “The people writing these libraries, blogs and conference talks are so smart—am I ever going to know enough to have such an impact?”

Every point on this slope is fractally self-similar to every other, differing only in scale. We know only so much; the unfathomable expanse of the unknown is spread before us.  It was like this when you knew a tenth as much, and it will look the same when you know ten or hundred times more again.  From the horizon, we all look like ants.

Look at your heroes; the best in the world at what you do. In fact, what they see is roughly what you see: a body of accumulated knowledge, and the brutally vast frontier of their own ignorance ahead.

So when do we draw the line and call ourselves “expert”? Never! This is for fools who have already stopped pedalling. It takes humility to accept that a life’s work can barely hope to recover a drop from this ocean of ignorance, and a noble madness to cheerfully hurl oneself into the waves.  If there is a line to draw, it is between these folk and those who turn their backs, turtling in with trinkets and baubles already won.

This light harshly exposes those who can’t empathise with junior colleagues. So, they asked a stupid question. Why did you stop asking stupid questions? Nobody still open to improving themselves would fail to recognise one of their own.

So learn! Abandon yourself to permanent inadequacy. Your life may host any number of hardships, but you’ll never know boredom again. You’ll forget what it was like to endure barren, aimless hours. The waiting-room becomes a study, the bus-stop an opportunity, the laundry a goldmine.

No, you’re not good enough, because there’s no such thing and never was. But you can still head that way.