Difficulty doesn’t equal poor skill

I’ve been fascinated by the Dunning-Kruger effect for a while. Since it relates to people of low skill overestimating their abilities and people of high skill underestimating their abilities that leaves anyone wondering, “Where do I stand on the spectrum of skill?”

Some of the studies show that those on the low end still recognize they are less skilled than the highly skilled people in a given task, they just underestimate by how much. Alternatively, those on the high end recognize they are more skilled, they just underestimate how much more skilled they are.

An interesting study done shows that when the tasks are difficult for all the skill levels, the skilled end lowers how much better they perceive themselves to be even if they are still at the same relative level of skill difference in a task they find easy. The thought is “If it’s hard for me, I’m not that skilled.”

That’s not true at all.

There are plenty of things that are hard no matter who you are. Writing a screenplay like Hamilton will be hard for anyone. Running a Michelin-starred restaurant is demanding for anyone. Running a large public corporation would be hard for anyone. This goes hand-in-hand with perfection is the pursuit of only the simplest tasks.

When you apply yourself and things are hard, it’s best to not assume you’re unskilled or even untalented. Consider for a second, “Is this work this demanding?” If you’re making a podcast, doing high-end interior design, creating a new product, writing a book, and overall doing important work, the answer is probably “yes.” Don’t get down on yourself. Stick with it, it will get easier, but it will never be easy. That’s a good thing, it keeps competitors away.