Years of Learning: Recognizing Expertise

“If I do a job in 30 minutes, it’s because I spent 10 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.” – Jean-Michel Ribes

In a world that often measures productivity and success solely based on the final outcome, it is easy to overlook the years of dedication, hard work, and sacrifice that go into achieving mastery in a particular field. Jean-Michel Ribes, a French playwright and theater director, encapsulates this sentiment beautifully in his thought-provoking quote.

At first glance, Ribes’ quote may appear to emphasize the importance of recognizing the value of time. Indeed, time is a precious resource that should be acknowledged and respected. However, Ribes’ words go much deeper than a mere acknowledgment of time. They serve as a reminder of the relentless pursuit of knowledge and expertise that lies behind every great accomplishment.

When Ribes speaks of doing a job in 30 minutes, he is not implying that the task is inherently easy or simple. Instead, he highlights the culmination of years of learning, practice, and refinement that enable him to execute the task swiftly and efficiently. His quote challenges the notion that time spent on a task should be the sole basis for remuneration or recognition.

Consider the analogy of an iceberg. What we see on the surface is only a fraction of what lies beneath. Similarly, the 30 minutes spent on a task represent merely the visible tip of the iceberg. The real substance lies in the years of toil, perseverance, and experience that enable an individual to accomplish the task with such apparent ease.

In a society that often values instant gratification and immediate results, Ribes’ words provide a valuable perspective. They remind us to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts, sacrifices, and struggles that individuals endure to achieve mastery in their respective fields. Whether it is an artist, a musician, a scientist, or any other professional, the expertise they bring to their work is the result of countless hours spent honing their craft.

It is important to recognize that the value of a professional’s work extends far beyond the time it takes to complete a task. The years of learning and experience contribute to the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of their work. When we engage the services of an expert, we are not paying for a specific duration; we are compensating them for their expertise, their ability to solve problems efficiently, and their deep understanding of their field.

Ribes’ quote also serves as a call to action for society to reassess its priorities. It urges us to shift our focus from immediate results to the long-term investment required to cultivate true expertise. This shift in mindset would lead to a greater appreciation for the years spent in relentless pursuit of knowledge, innovation, and skill development.

In conclusion, Jean-Michel Ribes’ quote carries a powerful message that transcends the boundaries of time and skill. It serves as a reminder that true expertise is not measured in minutes, but in the dedication and effort invested over years of learning and practice. The next time we witness someone accomplishing a task swiftly and effortlessly, let us remember the quote and pay homage to the years that led to that precise moment of excellence.

One thought on “Years of Learning: Recognizing Expertise

  1. Reminds me of something I read recently:

    When Pablo Picasso was an old man, he was sitting in a cafe in Spain, doodling on a used napkin. He was nonchalant about the whole thing, drawing whatever amused him in that moment–kind of the same way teenage boys draw penises on bathroom stalls–except this was Picasso, so his bathroom stall penises were more like cubist/impressionist awesomeness laced on top of faint coffee stains.
    Anyway, some woman sitting near him was looking on in awe. After a few minutes, Picasso finished his coffee and crumpled up the napkin to throw away as he left.

    The woman stopped him. “Wait,” she said. “Can I have that napkin you were just drawing on? I’ll pay you for it.”

    “Sure,” Picasso replied. “Twenty thousand dollars.”

    The woman’s head jolted back as if he had just flung a brick at her. “What? It took you like two minutes to draw that.”

    “No, ma’am,” Picasso said. “It took me over sixty years to draw this.” He stuffed the napkin in his pocket and walked out of the cafe.

    From The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

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