Just Be Helpful

In his book “How the Mind Works”, author Stephen Pinker writes:

I am hoping that scholars and general readers both might profit from a bird’s-eye view of the mind and how it enters into human affairs. At this high altitude there is little difference between a specialist and a thoughtful layperson because nowadays we specialists cannot be more than laypeople in most of our own disciplines, let alone neighboring ones.

This is no small dose of humility from a man that’s a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, who also taught at MIT and Stanford, who won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences and published multiple award-winning books. …nowadays we specialists cannot be more than laypeople in most of our own disciplines let alone neighboring ones. This is why I cringe a bit every time I get introduced as a “subject matter expert”. This is why impostor syndrome flares up around the conference table during the obligatory introductions.

This is the guy that wrote the book on how the human mind works, and he freely admits that things have become too complex for anyone to be an “expert” in the traditional sense. Granted, the human mind is a whole lot more complex than a Web page, or a Web site, or an app - I’m not saying they’re the same. But some days this Web stuff sure feels like studying neuroscience, or defense against the dark arts, either way.

In the last few months, Web Design has changed from playing chess with friends to playing pro chess. — Oliver Reichenstein

In the daily struggle to balance getting it done with getting it right, I find it comforting and helpful to ask myself are you an expert or a professional? I try to remember that good enough and done is better than anything still lingering on the burn down chart. I try to be the professional, to help move things forward, to add value - to just, be helpful.