Commentary by Terry Anker
Experts, consultants and professionals – oh my! We are constantly surrounded by the promise of secret solutions and quick fixes. These experts tell us that if we could only get the right advice, our challenges would be resolved and our futures would brighten.
Specialization, perhaps more than any other single element of human evolution, has allowed for the expansion of our individual quality of life. Yet, it has also fostered unprecedented dependency. There was a time, not that long ago, when we each were able to maintain our own automobiles, grow and prepare our own food, file our own taxes, and repair our own homes. The degree of complexity now built into these machines and systems has excluded the average human from being able to participate. For example, making repairs to a mechanical carburetor is a very different task than doing the same with electronic fuel injection.
It is always good to have the insight of someone who has traveled the path before embarking on a journey; however, we may have become so dependent upon the promise of easy answers that we are dismissing our personal responsibility and potential to learn these trades. Does the constant reliance on so-called experts beg the question, “How is the status determined?” Is it based upon academic training, credentialing, practical experience or simply a title on a business card?
It would be a deep error to overlook the advisory class en masse because after all, is it really possible to be a jack of all trades? An old proverb asserts “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” So, how do we trust and make good use of professional advisors without descending into a trap where those making our decisions are less competent than had we simply done the work ourselves?