I like to think of skill acquisition and progression like levels in a video game.
If you’re a level ten at something, you’re in the best of the world, and you’re likely celebrated and/or paid for it. If you’re a level one, you’re just starting out and have very little knowledge of the wider field.
The tricky thing is that we often look up to the tens as they’re the ones in the spotlight. We compare ourselves to their skill level and feel bad that we’re not there yet. This makes no sense to do so, as it’s like comparing a newborn’s physical abilities to those of an Olympic gymnast, but we do it anyway.
I think we need to remember that it’s incredibly difficult to become a ten, and that you don’t need to become a ten to be successful. Honestly, if you’re a five or above, you can probably make a living off whatever skill you’re learning.
The thing to understand is that if you’re looking to have level ten clients, you need to be level ten. Apple isn’t going to hire a level five designer – they’re going to hire a level eight or higher.
The flip side of this is that most people won’t be able to afford a level eight designer. Honestly, most people don’t need a level eight designer, carpenter, accountant, or engineer, let alone a level ten one.
Most people who are level one need a level three, or a level four. Sometimes they might need a level two. If you’re looking to freelance, or start your own business, remember that you can probably sell the skills you already have, you just need to find the right level of clients.
This is not to say that you won’t ever be a level ten, but the point is that it takes time and dedicated practice, and you shouldn’t expect level ten clients right out of the gate. Level up your skills, and you’ll be able to level up those who you seek to serve.