The “Skill-Buy-Fallacy” – The one Mistake I did over and over again

There are three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”


The story I’m about to tell you, I had to learn the hard way. It’s about the mistake I made over and over again thinking I’m the smart one, while I was actually the one not willing to put in the necessary effort. Not only did it cost me thousands, but it also cost me valuable time. Lifetime, I could have spent in a more fun and less frustrating way.

So here’s the story: Whenever I wanted to start a new habit, reach a new goal, target a new projective, I started researching all the “tools” and “gadgets” I would need. If it was running, I would spend hours looking for the best running shoes; if it was DJing, I spent hours if not days researching, comparing, reading, sometimes testing the equipment before I would come to a final decision. Often times I would even save money to be able to buy the equipment that would actually be for real professionals, hoping it would make me become a professional more easily.

And I’ll repeat the last sentence, because that sums it all up:

I would buy stuff out of my leage hoping it would make me gain the desired skill more easily.

As if the “equipment” would do the work for me. As if it would make it so easy, I wouldn’t have to put in the same effort other people with cheaper equipment would have to.

Some of you might have done the same. Some of you might still think that’s the “smart way to do it”. But oh boy, have we all been wrong. Mainly because of three things:

1 Prolongued Research is just Procrastination in disguise

What it feels like: Being in the research makes you feel as if you’ve already started your new hobby. It makes you feel energized. You look forward to building the habit, using the new, superior, tools to progress much faster than you usually would, thinking you will overtake the ones you compare yourself with in no time.

What actually happens: You procrastinate on starting (to practice). As simple as that. Instead of “doing”, you just research. Which does absolutely nothing for your progress. In addition, you’ve adjusted to very high standards. By putting so much effort into the research phase, you know very well what results can be produced with the piece of equipment you’ve just bought. And there is little no chance, that you are able to produce those results right away.

2 If you buy equipment out of your league …

… you compare yourself with standards out of your league.

What you think happens: You think you’ve bought yourself ahead of the competition. You think you’ve bought yourself a headstart, a small lead that will elevate you faster to your goal.

What actually happens: You’ve become so focused on the “thing”, that you actually forget about the “effort” that needs to go with it. What you don’t see is the amount of effort. The different stages of frustration everybody has gone through to come to that level.

What actually happens: Frustration kicks in once you were not able to produce the results you opt for, right away.

3 Congratulations: You’ve just bought yourself your own scapegoat

Once you have bought your new piece of equipment and fail to produce the outcome you desire (see above), it’s easy to simply say: I should have opted for the other one. You did so much research, you often end up with two or three very close choices that are different in their approach: Canon or Nikon, Adidas or Rebook, etc. Both would work, but since you didn’t get the results you wanted, you might say to yourself “I should have gone for the other one”.

The main reason you fail, is because you attach the end result to a thing instead of your skill, which can only be developed through repetitive practice and effort.

The first time I did the mistake was when I bought my DJ equipment.

Side Story: I have a friend who’s into fishing. He watches Youtube videos all day, some in Japanese – although he doesn’t speak nor understand any Japanese – on the newest tech, newest gadget and best hooks to catch a specific fish that doesn’t even live in our parts of the earth. He’s so deep into what I call “Gadgeting” that he seems to enjoy it more than the action of going fishing.

Equivalent to:

I’ve seen others do the same mistake as well. Whenever you want to learn something. When you want to start something new.

To sum up: There is not shortcut. Money can’t buy you a skill. Theoretically it could help you develop the skills just a tiny little bit faster, but it comes at a price. The price of a “high standard mindset” instead of a “learners mindset”.

I still catch myself falling for this fallacy, e.g. when it comes to Video Equipment, Kitchen utilities, and much more. It’s hard. But knowing about it can help you make a smart decision. A Pareto decision. Buy “value for the money” instead of professional stuff. And don’t put too much effort into research, it just clouds your thoughts and sets standards too high. Instead focus on the beginners and amateurs mind. Focus on progress instead of results. And things will fall your way, automatically.


Beginner with $30,000 RED vs PRO with $600 DSLR

“It’s not the gear that makes the difference its the skills that make the difference”


Beginner Editor on Adobe Premiere VS. Pro on iMovie - Video Editing Showdown!

“Gear does make a difference, it doesn’t make all the difference. I don’t think it makes most the difference, but it does make a difference.”

“Put in the hours”

“Experience can teach you what gear can’t”

Other examples:

Running a marathon barefoot, and winning.

Losing a shoe and winning the marathon.

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