In today's society, we still seem to judge people and their professional competence/ability based on their credentials and titles. But what does having credentials and earned titles mean? Does it mean they are better than someone with fewer credentials? How do you determine the quality of two professionals if they have the same credentials? Experience?
So then does that mean the amount of experience is a better determining factor of a professional's quality?
Well, no. Just because you've done your job for a long time doesn't mean you're any good at it. I'm sure we know many people who fit that bill.
It's the people who go above and beyond what is deemed to be "necessary" by the industry who actually excel in what they do. It's the people who put in their blood, sweat, and tears into their craft, with the want and intention of getting better that will actually get better. It's the people who leave their brains and their passion into their work, not the ones who let their brains and passions fade in presence.
Often, these types of people recognize that the traditional way of getting to where they want to go is not for them. Some recognize it early, some recognize it later.
I work in two different industries: health/fitness/wellness, and pain resolution/rehab. There are many people in both industries who are successful, but not good, and vice versa. Let me be clear: success in a business/making money does not equate to quality of the work done. It just means you're good at business and marketing yourself.
The higher quality professionals I know in my industries for the most part are considered "self-taught." Yes, there are a few with PhD's and academic resumes that would impress the Pope, but I'm finding that there are many more without the traditional academia background, and more of a forged, smart-choiced bushwhacked path exploration that tend to do well. They think out of the box, and they do it often. There's something in their personalities that has them waking up with this passion to improve as much as possible *again* that day, and the next, and the next. They meet like-minded people through various environments, learning opportunities, and networking. They don't buy into ideas easily, but they'll entertain them until they figure out what parts of those ideas to keep and what to discard. They form their own ways of doing things. They have their own reasons.
Some of the best therapists I know have the simple licensure or certification of massage therapist, personal trainer, or even yoga instructor. Some have not graduated from a university. Some did not even begin university. Yet they have gotten better results than medical doctors, physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons, and other what have traditionally been considered as the "go-to" people when you have pain. They do what those classically trained professionals are not trained to do: think out of the box. Look at the bigger picture.
How did they get to where they are? Why will they be better tomorrow, when others will be the same? They attend carefully chosen courses, they not only absorb information but they actually process it and think about it. They don't believe everything they see, but they don't discount it, either. They refuse to be stuck in a "this is the only way" mentality. They believe there is almost ALWAYS another way. And they'll either find it, or they'll refer you to someone who already found it.
The next time you ask about someone professionally, instead of asking about their credentials, ask about their results. Ask about their success rate. Ask about their WORK, not their ability to pass tests.