“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
– Irish Proverb
My wife, Linda, and I have been in Grecia, Costa Rica now for three weeks.
We came here as kind of an experiment: The kids are off to college and beyond; the house has been sold in favor of a maintenance-free condo; and we both work independently and more or less remotely.
So, in an attempt to sidestep yet another Massachusetts February, we thought maybe a month in the sun would be a good idea.
My tan agrees; it’s been terrific for any number of reasons.
Perhaps most interesting, though, is how much we now know about living here compared to how little we understood just a few short weeks ago.
For example, we know …
… that there’s a bustling farmer’s market on the edge of town every Friday and Saturday (bring your own bags).
… that all humans (and a fair number of livestock) seem to be required by law to greet everyone they meet in the morning with a hearty “Buenos dias!” But, if you really want to be cool, just toss out a well-accented “Buenas.”
… that the kitchen and bathroom sinks aren’t supposed to have hot water. And that the way to control the temperature in the shower is by varying the amount of water pressure.
… that if you don’t want your computer keyboard destroyed by sticky ash from the nearby and recently active Poas Volcano, you had better keep it covered when not in use.
… that you should never ask a Costa Rican for help, directions, or any other type of assistance unless you really mean business, because they will not give up until they solve your problem.
And on and on. Some of the things we’ve learned relate to Costa Rica in general, others are specific to the town of Grecia.
So here’s my question for you: Am I a Costa Rican expert?
No. Not by a long shot.
I know next to nothing about the country’s politics, education system, or history.
I’ve never been to a futbol game; I’ve never driven a car; I don’t even recognize half the fruit they sell at the market.
And Spanish? Well, there’s not a precocious three-year-old native who couldn’t talk circles around me.
But, if you’ve never been to Costa Rica – let alone, Grecia, Costa Rica – I could drastically smooth your transition, save you a ton of missteps (not to mention cold showers), and guide you towards lots of great places to visit, eat and enjoy.
In your eyes, Mr. or Ms. Costa Rican Novice, I am well over the expert bar.
Do some people know more than I do? Sure.
But when you are looking for help, the question is not, “Who is the best of the best of the best?” It’s, “Who can help me solve my problem for a price that seems reasonable?”
Lots of professionals don’t see it that way.
They think they need to get better, learn more, gain additional experience, before they can work with clients, let alone think of themselves as expert.
I think that’s a mistake.
First, because the day will never arrive that a major news organization calls you up and says, “Congratulations, we’ve been watching you and have decided that as of today, you are entitled to think of yourself as an expert.”
It doesn’t work that way “out here.” There is nobody in charge; nobody deciding whose turn is next.
Second, because you are doing a disservice to yourself – not to mention the people who would benefit from your experience and perspective – by waiting for the day that you are finally “good enough.”
That day is already here.
The only thing missing is you … and your willingness to believe it.
I’ll be at the farmers’ market if you need me.
- Have you ever taken a cold shower in a foreign country? Send photos.
- Are you worried that people will accuse you of being a fraud? Don’t bother – they are too busy worrying about the same thing to notice you.
- You’re an expert – what do you think the third question should be? Please ask and then answer it, below!