Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational speaker who can cover the topic of developing expertise and genuine confidence at your next business event. Contact us to check availability. The full transcript of the above video is included below.


Full Video Transcript:

Hi and welcome to another edition of Strategic Business Insights. Today we’re going to talk about climbing the ladder of success and how many rungs are above you versus below you – and this is in any area of life, just talk about success in general to begin with. In your business, to be successful, people consistently … it’s kind of human nature that we know how many rungs are below us because we’ve climbed those already. So we know the number of steps that we took to get to where we are, but we consistently as human beings underestimate how many steps are still beyond or above where we are currently. In other words, people quite often think, “I’m almost there. Once I get this thing, everything’s going to be fine. Once I achieve this milestone, that’s when I’m going to be successful.

I had a friend of mine and he was like—this is years ago and we actually started our businesses at a similar time—and I remember he was like, “You know, when I have an office, when I have my own office, then it’s a real business, then I’ve really got a real business.” And then eventually he got an office, and I remember later on he was like, “When I get trucks…” It’s a long story, but he’s like, “When I get trucks, then it’s a real business.” So he’d just keep moving the goal posts.

People don’t realize how many steps are above where they are. It’s like when you go hiking. When you go hiking, you see that top of the hill. It’s right in front of you. But once you get to it, you realize that behind there there’s another hill that’s even higher than the one you’re at, and when you get to that one there’s even one beyond there. So the path above you is a lot longer than you might think. And that’s not intended to discourage you from continuing to push forward and progress and evolve as a human being, but it’s meant to say that the level of expertise that you can attain is limitless. You can go very, very far in life and in whatever field you specialize in to really learn your craft, and the differences that those high-end levels…in other words, the difference from novice to beginner, beginner to intermediate – those are huge changes. And a lot of people get kind of that far, they get to beginner or they get to intermediate. But then when you go from intermediate to advanced or from advanced to expert, those are more subtle changes but they make a huge difference.

Now, I remember, like salsa dancing is one of my biggest hobbies so I go salsa dancing like twice a week, and once every year in San Francisco they have what’s called the San Francisco Salsa Congress. And they literally have thousands, I mean, I couldn’t believe it, I went to it for the first time this year and I was astonished – there were thousands of people who descended onto the Oakland Marriott in Downtown Oakland in the San Francisco Bay Area and they had like dancing until four o’clock in the morning. But the level of dance was astonishing. And I consider myself kind of a solid intermediate dancer, but there were people there – like I was probably one of the worst dancers there, and I’m decent. I’m not great, but I’m decent, but these people were awesome.

And the differences were so subtle, like they could do these patterns that like they made it look so easy. They made it look like, oh, it just kind of happened by accident, like they were just having fun and smiling and laughing while they’re dancing and doing their thing. And they do these incredibly complicated patterns. I know how complicated those patterns are. But because they’re so comfortable and they’ve reached that level of expertise, it’s these little adjustments where they just make it look so easy. Like it’s an effortless thing and they’re almost playing with each other, the guy and the girl as they dance, because they didn’t even have to worry about the actual moves themselves because it was just second nature. They knew it so well. So those final levels above you in the rungs of the ladder higher than where you are today, that’s when you start to fine-tune your expertise, and the adjustments are tiny.

I noticed this in the speaking business where I learn little things of when I’m on a stage and I have to just speak to an audience, and there are little adjustments that I can make that just make it look…ideally you want it to look like you came onstage and just made up the entire speech off the top of your head at the moment you got there and absolutely enjoyed every second and totally relaxed in the process. When you see an excellent speaker, that’s quite often what you think. Now, the truth is it took them 15 years to get to that point. They’ve done hundreds or thousands of presentations to get to that point where they can just be comfortable and relaxed. It’s the difference between being forced and being natural.

Like when I first started in dancing, it was like The Matrix for me. I was like calculations and looking at other people and trying to figure stuff out. I mean, my brain was working – it was like the hardest mental exercise of my entire day, was my dance, because it was thinking about so many things. But as I’ve gotten better, it starts to become intuitive. It starts to become natural. And I know that there are a thousand steps beyond me, above me in the ladder. I’m not close to the top. I’m decent, like I said before. I’m a decent speaker. But there are so many rungs above where I am, and we need to appreciate that there are countless rungs above where we are.

So think about your level of expertise or whatever it is you do in life, whether it’s for business or in your personal life. Where are you? Are you a beginner? Are you intermediate? Are you advanced? Do you think you’re advanced? You might be, but I promise you there are more rungs above you than you think, and have an appreciation for that journey that’s still in front of you, that you haven’t gotten to yet, and how that journey will just make subtle adjustments which will make you—the difference is huge.

When you see someone who’s comfortable and natural, you respond to them in a very different way. Confidence is a very powerful trait. When people are still nervous like I was for so long in both speaking and dancing and countless other things in my life, people can see that. You don’t realize that they can—they don’t even notice they’re doing it themselves—but they see your nervousness, they see your insecurity. So keep on the journey, keep learning, keep growing, going rung by rung up that ladder, learning new things, practicing, fine-tuning, and you’re going to get that natural comfort.

What it’s going to do, it’s going to increase the conversion rate. This is the term I get from my website analytics. The conversion rate increases. So out of a hundred people I meet when I’m insecure, maybe only one or two of them want to talk to me about whatever it is I do. But when I’m good and confident and natural and comfortable in the expertise, out of a hundred people that I meet maybe 30 or 40 want to talk to me more about what I do. The conversion rate changes.

So have an appreciation for what’s above you on that ladder. I know you know the steps you’ve gotten through so far, but there’s a lot to come and you’d be amazed at the level of expertise that you can reach when you keep climbing that ladder into the future.

Thanks for watching this video. My name is Patrick, reminding you as always to think bigger about your business, think bigger about your life.

Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a keynote speaker who has spoken at business conferences in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.