Being Smarter Than Everyone Is Hard

Or why I can’t make an online course to save my life

I am subscribed to a lot of online courses. A lot. Like, deleting-almost-20-emails-every-morning a lot. Most of them are great courses with wonderful content, but they all preach the same gospel:

You need to be doing this yourself.

Now, there are variations, of course, but the end result is always the prompt to get off my butt, find my voice, and start churning my wisdom out for all to appreciate. Some encourage me to blog, others encourage me to create workbooks, one is dead-set on my creating a video course, and I think one might extol the virtues of interpretive dance as a corporate training methodology.

So, being a good Southern boy, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I could offer to the world by way of a blog or course or meaningful dance variation. I’ve written notes, created graphics, come up with blog posts, thought of some catchy branding stuff, and developed a rough outline for a course.

And I’ve come to one conclusion.

Being smarter than everyone else is hard.

Like way hard. Harder than that last math class for graduation. Harder than following John McCain’s logic. Harder than figuring out the Taylor Swift-Katy Perry feud.

Because here’s what I’ve figured out from my own consumption of courses: at some point, the teacher runs out of wisdom.

Doesn’t matter the topic, doesn’t matter how gifted the teacher, there is a fixed place within the process of learning when the student catches up to the teacher. Traditionally, it’s called graduation, and it’s when the student is forced to go out and do something with the accumulated knowledge.

But we don’t really do graduations anymore. We have entered this weird, forever-a-student phase, where we just move on to the next teacher, the next course, the next dance, hoping to find that magic whatever-it-is that will make us happy.

Instead of going out and doing, we just keep on learning.

Which forces teachers to keep on teaching. I know a lot of folks offering content online are constantly searching for a new audience — if you’ve been through their stuff before, then you’re not their target. But a lot of times, people who develop a following are expected to keep on developing new stuff for their followers, even if they don’t have anything new to say.

Some folks are brilliant at this — they can write the same blog post 157 times and make each one feel fresh. Others aren’t as brilliant, and they end up just repurposing the same content with diminishing results.

Blessed are the teachers who never run out of fresh wisdom.

My friend Jesse Barnett is one of those guys — he has wisdom coming out his ears, and has a fantastically friendly style of sharing it with his readers. I’ve never met someone with such an abundance of perspective and storytelling ability.

I am not that way. I mean, I have fresh wisdom — I love learning new things — but I’m in a phase of life where the learning from others has to stop and the learning by doing has to begin. I can’t waste any more time reading what others have to say, I have to go out and do it myself.

Which means I probably won’t create that online course. And my branded blog will likely never get off the ground.

And — tragically — you’ll never get to see my variation set to the Beastie Boys “She’s Crafty”.

But that’s okay, because it will mean you get my best work in other areas. And when I do decide to share some of the new wisdom I’m learning, it will serve to help you in some small way.

Until then, I encourage you to read everything Jesse Barnett writes. He’ll keep you going.