“Great genius takes shape by contact with another great genius, but less by assimilation than by friction.” – Heinrich Heine, Born Dec. 13, 1797.
I don't think I am a genius. You're probably not one, either. But discounting that, there is something for everyone to grab onto in this quote.
Whatever your craft is, study it. Put it into practice. Put it in front of an audience.
But here is a key part if you want to get better – find other craftspeople in your field. Ones on your level. Ones better than you. Ones not as good as you.
And argue with them.
Through study and practice, you're bound to have strong opinions and conclusions about your field. Put them out there. Call out people who disagree. Defend and support your positions against whatever opposition they can bring.
Be open minded.
Adjust when you are wrong, then go right back to total confidence when presenting your new, adjusted position.
What this does is basically let you crowdsource wisdom, but never lets you fall into the trap of believing something simply because you heard it from someone who should know.
You're always testing and grinding and scraping your own ideas and work against someone else's and that makes it stronger.
When you encounter every possible opposition to your position, and you figure out how to counter it and best it, then you KNOW you've found something valuable and usable.
Don't just sit inside your own bubble of thought and influence and belief. If you do, you only create mediocrity inside that bubble.
Excellence, freshness, excitement – all of that comes into your work when you are arguing your case constantly.
And if you're in the same field as I am – professional persuasion – argument keeps you sharp.
That's what persuasion amounts to – and sales and marketing: Winning an argument with the prospect.
And to get good at it, you must face the friction of arguing with skill, grace, and experience.