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I’m Not Qualified For Any of This…

in Do What You Love, Rants

Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.

Several months ago, Chris Guillebeau wrote a post on his blog called Qualifications.

It was one of the greatest blog posts I’ve ever read. It still is.

For months I’ve had it bookmarked. I must’ve read it close to thirty times by now.

(As you can tell, I strongly recommend you check out the original post!)

At first, I couldn’t identify what I loved so much about these words.

But then it hit me. Chris’ post was my life.

Sure some of the details were different. Some of the events, names, and places would need to be renamed. But the result was the exact same.

Like Chris pointed out, I’m not qualified for almost anything I’m currently doing today.

In fact, as I write this, I’ve been in Ohio for the past week with a team of 4 planning a documentary.

That’s right, we’re filming a movie.

Why?

Because I want to. Because I feel compelled to. Because it’s an important message and video is the best medium to share it with the world.

What background do I have in film?

You guessed it… none.

Actually, less than none.

I’ve never shot a single frame of video footage on anything outside of my flip cam. I’ve never budgeted a movie. I’ve never been trained in storytelling, cinematics, lighting, sound, or art.

I may be the most unqualified person on the planet to help spearhead a documentary film.

*****

But before starting this blog, I’d never written a single day in my life that wasn’t for a forced. (Think high school book report writing.)

I didn’t journal. I didn’t write for fun. I still to this day don’t enjoy the craft of writing. I’m jealous of people who do.

Before selling my first book through this community, I’d never produced anything and sold it.

I’d never been paid for my thoughts. I’d never published anything in exchange for someone else’s hard-earned money.

Before recording my first few videos online, I’d never publicly spoke before. I filmed it in terribly lighting, in my bedroom, with an unmade bed in the background. I didn’t know any different.

I don’t have a C.P.A. or a C.F.P. after my name – and I never ever will.

I’m not even close to “qualified” to provide financial advice. Courtney and I still have student loans. We still make plenty of mistakes in our relationship with money and business.

Despite all this, my writing has helped contribute to thousands of people paying off millions in debt.

Despite all this, I’ve given speeches that people later claim have changed their lives (still boggles my mind).

Despite all this, over the next 6 months, I’m producing a feature-length documentary.

Has it all been pretty?

Haha, of course not. Long-time readers know that! :)

I’ve been very fortunate, had great timing, and worked insanely hard.

But most importantly, I’ve learned that three things matter far more than “qualifications”:

  1. The knowledge that said qualifications are worthless.
  2. The support of close family, mentors, and friends.
  3. The willingness to take action in the face of fear.

For me, the willingness to take action has been far more valuable than any letters I could have added to the end of my name.

Is it scary sometimes?

You bet, part of me is terrified right now.

But Eleanor Roosevelt said it best…

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor would be proud of the last few weeks of my life. :)

Sometimes I think the only reason many people have “real qualifications” is that they were too scared to do anything else.

Stop putting off your life until you’re more qualified.

Anything in life worth doing, you won’t be qualified for when you start.

Thanks, Chris, for the constant reminder

Xoxoxo,

-Baker

*****

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Brent Pittman January 30, 2012 at 5:08 PM

When we do what we love, we might not be ‘qualified’ beyond our passions. But perhaps passion trumps credentials?

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Chris Guillebeau January 30, 2012 at 5:33 PM

Nice work, Mr. Baker. Glad to be a small part of your big work.

Though I do recall hearing that you were well qualified in Halo tournaments and poker…. something to consider if this movie thing doesn’t work out.

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Baker January 30, 2012 at 5:43 PM

I always have a plan B and C. ;)

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KC @ PsychoMoney January 30, 2012 at 5:35 PM

I remember reading that post as well, very inspiring for sure. Keep up the good work!

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Paul January 30, 2012 at 6:00 PM

I know just how you feel. I just started a blog about gardening and organic lifestyle. Not because I was an expert, but actually in spite of that fact. Just because I love it.
I find you to be inspiring, and I think the fact you were not an “expert” makes it more real.

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Mike January 30, 2012 at 6:02 PM

I’ve been reading your blog for awhile and I usually don’t do comments but today …. wow … that was a home run for me. Thanks for this article today. I swear that’s life changing.

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Angie January 30, 2012 at 6:15 PM

THIS is what I needed to read today. Thank You! Hope you all are enjoying the unseasonably mild weather here in Ohio :)

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Juha Liikala January 30, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Way too many people are obsessed about titles. I think it’s a sorry excuse for postponing ideas that we’d love to try, but are scared shitless to approach. I need this and this and that before I can….

Now that you reminded.. I should have my flipcam somewhere in the closet.. Need to go find it asap! ;D

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Tranque January 30, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Baker this post was spot on! Excellent!

And the last part was so true. In my family I have a doctor, a psychologist and an artist with a masters degree (who rarely has time to do art and makes his living teaching.)

The doctor became one because he never wanted to be or do anything else in life; it essentially is his passion.
The psychologist became one just to get that title “Dr.” because she thought it would make people respect her but more importantly she thought it would finally make her like and respect herself. Guess what…. It didn’t. 20 years later she’s miserable doing a job she hates and is now looking for a way out.

You can pretty much say “Ditto” for the teacher/”artist”, Instead of just doing his art he spent decades studying how to do it! He’s living proof of the cliche, “Those that can do; those that can’t teach.” (Though I’m actually not a fan of that saying and it isn’t always true but can be.)

Also, Isn’t this at the heart of the Shiny Object Syndrome as well? People just continuing to “get ready to get ready,” always buying new courses, etc. to fill their time studying rather than actually taking he action needed to build their business.

Once again, fantastic post and I especially enjoyed it because I’m just finishing up a related post for my ezine/blog as well. I’ll have to add a link to this post for suggested “further reading” on the subject.

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Anna January 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM

You make some really great points in the post. So many people think that you have to be an “expert” to have an opinion on something when in reality we’re all experts in our own experiences. So much of life is about taking action, and actually DOING IT, instead of waiting for perfection and then taking the action.

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J.G ( I Heart Travel) January 30, 2012 at 6:56 PM

I love this post and the source it was inspired by. I remember reading the same post and it brought me such inspiration as well!

Having a passion to do something has altered my perception of what life can be!

I always say now, before I was living life on autopilot, and I am glad some things had to go wrong in my life, for things to be so good now.

I started a blog, and an online t-shirt shop all coming from this passion, no qualification no nothing, I have gained some followers, and some supporters have bought my shirts.

Had I worried about my qualifications to do something like this, I perhaps wouldn’t be doing what I am now……LIVING LIFE!…….What I do now fuels my soul and I love every bit of it.

AWESOME POST!

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Tyler S. January 30, 2012 at 7:19 PM

I don’t think that said qualifications are “worthless”. There are a lot of given standards and hoops for people to jump through to obtain a given qualification such as college degree. These qualifications show that you’re willing to put the time and work in at the bottom to gain basic knowledge – book smarts really. This shows a potential employer that you’re capable of handling certain tasks and responsible to an extent.

This is not to say that such qualifications are the ultimate standard. I know a successful salesman who’s led the nation in sales for his company in multiple years, and he never got an undergraduate degree. He has the street smarts and people skills that you can’t learn in college and can’t measure with “qualifications”.

Some people put everything into their qualifications, but I think experience and a proven track record of success is preferable. Lack of qualifications is no reason to discount someone’s efforts. I hope your documentary experience goes well!

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Camille January 30, 2012 at 7:51 PM

I think it’s great for people to have passion and determination and all that.

But I would caution against reverse snobbery when it comes to judging people who have “real qualifications.” I want the doctors who treat my child and the engineers who build the bridge that I drive across to have real qualifications when they start — and I believe those jobs (and many others for which “real qualifications” are necessary) are “worth doing.”

“Qualifications” come in all shapes and sizes. They may be the result of formal education or life experiences — both of which represent learning of some kind. Both represent expertise on a particular topic. You can use both to say, “Listen to what I have to say because I know what I’m talking about and can help you.” And both are valuable.

To say that qualifications are worthless if they come from anything other than learning things the hard way is to discredit the hard work and willingness and determination (and even passion) of a lot of people who chose a different path than you did.

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Baker January 30, 2012 at 9:46 PM

Camille, great points.

When I said “said qualifications,” I had meant the ones I went through or thought about in my own life. That would be much more clear if I said “most” or the “far majority.”

Obviously, some passions are built on the need for qualifications (whether that’s good or bad is up for debate in many cases). :)

My friend growing up is a fantastic veterinarian. Obviously he has certain “real qualifications” that he is forced to obtain. While I might argue he’s fantastic for reasons other than his ability to meet a checklist of steps to get a formal qualification, that doesn’t mean those qualifications are worthless in his case.

I get that, and for some these are necessary. But far too many people (me included) use that as an excuse not to start. :)

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Sun January 30, 2012 at 8:14 PM

First thought that came into my mind was “irresponsible loser”… I lived in San Francisco for ten years and met so many slackers that skate by life doing the bare minimum. Very articulate individuals with great talents, but choose not to engage life. Some get by with their soft social skills, who they know, or because the person comes from a place of privilege. Some of us don’t have those skills and don’t accept this way of thinking as acceptable. This behavior dishonors all the sacrifices our parents and grandparents have made to get us where we are today.

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Britt McCrimmon January 31, 2012 at 2:53 AM

Love this One! I just started a christian blog (there just aren’t any out there that are hot) and at times I feel like I am not qualified. Through Christ all things are possible! I will be keeping this post in the vaults for later inspiration! Keep em coming!

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Brooke January 31, 2012 at 12:04 PM

Baker,

This just changed my mindset today. I spent this morning before I even came to work job searching. I was so discouraged because I felt as if I didn’t have the skill set to do anything. Your article reminded me that we all have those moments. I loved the quote at the end. Its already been printed up and posted up on my wall…and written in my journal. Thank you. Its because of this article that I will go home today and apply for that job I was scared to today. Bless you for your insight into the world…into finance..and into each one of us! Best of luck with this movie!

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Mun January 31, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Wow that post from Chris Guillebeau was so inspiring.

I was sitting in my cubicle thinking what to do next until I stumbled upon your post. I do like my work, it’s pretty engaging and creative, but it’s one of those days!
After reading the post, I actually feel better about myself. Because ironically, I feel more qualified after reading that I don’t have to be qualified. (And I’m not missing the point that Chris did NOT mean qualifications are worthless!)

I’m glad that you’re filming a movie regardless of whatever qualification. Good luck on your documentary. :)

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Don Evans January 31, 2012 at 1:44 PM

Why am I not surprised!!

Having worked with (Adam) Baker, known him and followed his adventures/successes for more than 3 years, I never cease to be amazed at 1) what he says he wants to do, 2) what he tries and 3c) what he accomplishes.

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retirebyforty January 31, 2012 at 7:29 PM

If you haven’t failed, you haven’t tried. :)
It’s difficult to do things you don’t know how. Sometime you just have to put your head down and ignore what anyone else has to say. Heading over to read Chris’ post.

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butterflyjewel January 31, 2012 at 9:30 PM

I loved reading this article! I especially like these statements from you: ” Stop putting off your life until you’re more qualified. Anything in life worth doing, you won’t be qualified for when you start.” Your life is an inspiring example. I wish you well with your documentary!

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Ruth Lawyer-Noor February 1, 2012 at 12:33 PM

I am moved to tears by your courage and humility and am inspired to take action! Thank you:)

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MoneyforCollegePro February 1, 2012 at 2:34 PM

I sometimes find myself up against the same hurdle. No qualifications and yet I am doing it anyway. I’ve found that you can’t dwell on your lack of qualifications and that you just simply go with it. If you think you are unqualified than you are, and the reverse is true too!

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jack foley February 1, 2012 at 6:25 PM

Yea by doing one thing every day that scares you – this is how you gain wisdom..

Great work and keep going..!

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Jeff Crews February 4, 2012 at 2:45 AM

I am not a fan of this statement “Sometimes I think the only reason many people have “real qualifications” is that they were too scared to do anything else.” Whether someone is pursuing to become a Doctor, a CPA, a Lawyer, or even a college soccer coach (like myself), the reason those types of people pursue qualifications because 1. they love what they are pursing 2. realize that certain “qualification” set people apart 3. I think we are all are scared at times in our lives when it comes to growing up. I am all for people who do not hold themselves back because of certain “qualifications”.

I tried to relate this post to my life personally. My career is in the Internet. I literally eat and sleep emails, networking, etc. This is something I was able to get into with ZERO qualifications. I was an Accounting major that knew numbers and how to make sure companies were doing things properly. So this would be example where “qualifications” did not matter. I was able to overcome the people who have maybe studied the Internet, know SEO like the alphabet, and can sell a dead dog. The people with “qualifications”. I earned my “qualifications” by pushing myself, working hard, and constantly learning. Do you think I was scared when I first started out? YES!

On the other hand, I was a college soccer player, and realized I wanted to become a college soccer coach. There are certain “qualifications” I had experience wise (All-American, National Champion, Interned with Major League Soccer). However, those things were not the sole reason I was able to get certain coaching positions. I knew I needed more “qualifications”, so I took time and money out of my career to gain certain coaching licenses (“qualifications”). I did not do that because I was scared. I did it because I realized those licenses (“qualifications”) would set me apart.

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Dwight Anthony February 4, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Excellent post, I’m also not qualified for what i do either, but know that i’ve helped many on casual conversations and through other venues to rid themselves of debt and make a mindset change for the better.

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog dot Com

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Young and Thrifty February 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM

“You get what you put in” and I’m sure with every new venture you pursue you put all the blood, sweat, and tears required to make it successful… and then some! Congratulations on all you have accomplished thus far and good luck on your future endeavors :)

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Elaine February 7, 2012 at 12:37 AM

I think the role of the “expert” has radically changed over the past decade. Degrees and credentials don’t matter as much as they used to – what matters is “boots on the ground” real-life experience like you’ve amassed. :)

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Marianne February 8, 2012 at 12:51 AM

This is something I wholeheartedly agree with because I’ve lived it. I don’t even have a high school diploma yet I’ve surpassed many of the people working around me because of some hard work and ambition. Often I stop and, like the author of the article you referred to, realize how damned lucky I am. Other times I hold myself back because of my lack of qualifications. Sometimes I get held back for the same reasons. Overall, I too have found that far too much weight has been put in ‘qualifications’ and too little in hard work and good follow through.

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Alexandra February 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM

This is a great article! I definitely agree with what you said, that “Anything in life worth doing, you won’t be qualified for when you start.” Thank you for sharing!

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Brad February 8, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Thanks for this article. I’ve been trying to set up a blog of my own, and have been having a difficult time. Reading this article gave me the (re-)focus to finally get it running right. Thanks Baker.

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Oleg February 10, 2012 at 8:08 PM

Looks like all people around would like to live and get money without qualifications. Yes, my mother doesn’t have a cook diploma, but she is “excellent” cook… Why “excellent”? Because she cooks for me my favorite food. Will it be good for you? Who knows? You do not have any qualifications for cooking, but you are cooking… It is good. You have no qualifications for creating websites, but you do. It is good. What about doctors? If a surgeon tell you that he has no diploma and he has no medical qualification…. will you say “Oh, it is OK, I make money in the Internet without qualification too, so do not worry…”. What if your taxi driver tell you, that he does not have a driving license? Do you want to be a first client for plumber? Will you give your car to the person who have no idea what is an engine and how to change the oil?
If you want to make money, you have to get you “qualification”. It could be diploma, experience, peace of luck, patience.
So next time, when your website down, and you call tech support… be patient, it could be not qualified person there…

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Manoj Kotak February 12, 2012 at 3:10 PM

You have made a right point. Most of the people are mentally conditioned that for doing something you require some qualification of that sphere. Where as there are lot many persons who did not have qualifications of that sphere in spite of that they have achieved scintillating success in his sphere.
In my profession I happen to meet so many hard core entrepreneurs who have paved the way in highly technical industry without any knowledge or background of that industry.
I absolutely confirm your point on the basis of my first hand experience.

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Carolynn February 13, 2012 at 3:30 PM

What a pleasure to find your blog! It’s funny, you may not think you’re good enough or qualified enough, but you’re providing a great service to others, Baker.

“For me, the willingness to take action has been far more valuable than any letters I could have added to the end of my name.”

I came to the realization lately that I’d rather taken action and mess up than wait for when I’m good enough, qualified enough or perfect enough to do so. First, because I’ll never be perfect and so waiting will mean watching my life pass me by, and second, because in order to attain wisdom, I first have to make some mistakes. That leads to experience and experience is what we call life :) Thanks for putting into words what I’ve been thinking. More people need to feel the fear and do it anyway.

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jared February 13, 2012 at 4:57 PM

That was a great article, very inspiring and reminded me I need to get out and interact more with all you folk. :-) It’s easy to get caught up in our own projects at times and not get out here and mingle.

You said the most important thing in my book, “willingness.” The willingness to have an open mind and take action regardless of how uncomfortable life/situations may seem.

I never.. not once, had any significant life changing experience happen because I sat there and thought about it. Regardless of how enlightened I think I am, rhetoric rarely satisfies the soul.

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WR February 15, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Great Article.

How many people never get off the couch because they believe they are unqualified?

The last time I got the pang of “not qualified” was when I had to deliver a speech and a Q&A to a room full of 100 or so professionals. After the session I had an epiphany.

I have found that, with few exceptions, the over-educated use their letters as a blanket to hide under rather than as a catalyst to do great things. Perhaps this is due to the tremendous amount of crushing debt they have accumulated in the process of stacking on the degrees. who knows?

It is education for action vs. education as a yard stick to compare oneself to others. One is focused on service and contribution, the other is focused on competition and selfishness.

A passionate person with moderate education is a force to be reckoned with. Passion trumps credentials every…single…time!

-WR

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kalyan February 19, 2012 at 1:22 AM

Thats a great post. Totally agree. Recently I also wrote something on same lines.

http://bullishonlife.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/qualifications-vs-qualities/

Cheers.

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Julie @ Freedom 48 February 21, 2012 at 8:08 AM

Such a great example of just… following your dreams. Scrap qualifications and expectations and forge your own path through life. Congrats on the upcoming documentary!

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John March 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM

I know the feeling. Sometimes we don’t feel qualified for what we’re doing. But if we’re serving others well, making money at what we do, and we’re happy, aren’t those qualities that point to the fact that we are indeed qualified?

Who qualifies us anyway? I think it’s our customers, our friends, our family – the people we serve!

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Cristina @thetravolution April 8, 2012 at 9:09 PM

Thanks for writing this. One of the main reasons I became a blogger was because I was tired of going to countless job interviews (literally in the hundreds) where I had to prove myself, my academic credentials, and my qualifications only to get hundreds of rejection letters and phone calls in return. I was tired of relying on an Executive to decide if I was qualified enough, or “good” enough for them.

@WR – Unfortunately in the offline world passion doesn’t trump credentials. It’s the reason I love being a part of the blogging community!

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Vincent September 26, 2012 at 1:54 PM

This is so true! Almost went to grad school when I was able to learn so much about blogging, SEO and copywriting right from my first job! I was able to become a senior editor within a few years with no graduate degree at all. Qualifications aren’t everything, and most of your best skills will come from hands on experience!

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