How To Outperform 90% Of People

And why we overestimate others

It’s too late.

It’s too crowded.

People are already doing it better than you.

So why bother even getting started?

This, is the best thought pattern you can adopt if you want to never accomplish anything.

First, because it pushes you to believe you can’t bring value to an industry, when you most probably can.

Second, because you are comparing your current level in a field with the level of someone else who’s been in that field for way longer than you.

And comparison is the killer of passion.

Yes, seeing so many people in a field can be very discouraging at first, and even after being in that field for a while, discouragement may knock at your door every now and then.

But you can use that emotion for constructive or destructive outcomes:

  • You give up because it’s too uncomfortable, you feel it’s drying you out, and you can’t go beyond the negativity.

  • You move forward by questioning what you can do differently to feel you’re not playing in the same space anymore.

There is nothing wrong with neither of both.

It might actually be a proof of courage and maturity to give up if you feel it’s not for you. At least you tried and learned and you can now make an informed decision. 

And giving up on something doesn’t mean giving up on yourself. 

I gave up dancing after doing it for 8 years.

I gave up tennis after practicing for 6 years.

I gave up the piano after playing it for over 10 years.

It doesn’t mean I don’t still enjoy those activities.

I just gave up on the idea of making them the center of my life.

But with photography it was different. The medium was giving me too much joy and drive for simply letting it aside.

So I went on and tried different styles, finding inspiration with people who were doing it for years. 

Food, product, wildlife, macro, portrait, or event photography, I went through them all.

Examples of past work

And although I enjoyed each type in their own way, I was both too intimidated by the players already in each field, and not driven enough by those styles to continue.

So I moved on to landscape photography, which first looked like this for me:

Although my images were far from being great, the fun and drive to create was strong enough to push me to continue to get to where I am today:

The Myth of Overestimation: Outperforming the 90%

When you first venture into a new field, it’s natural to look up to those who have already achieved greatness, success, or anything you view as valuable.

Their work seems flawless, their knowledge vast, and their success enviable.

As stated earlier, this can be both inspiring and intimidating. But here’s a crucial insight: we often overestimate the skill level of the majority in any field.

In reality, the difference between those who are just starting out and those who are considered “experts” is not as vast as it seems.

With consistent effort and a strategic approach, it’s surprisingly achievable to outperform a significant portion of the field within a reasonably short time frame.

Mostly because the ones we perceive as experts are naïvely confidents and have found a little success or recognition. But they usually aren’t that far in their learning curve.

Why We Overestimate Others

There are three main reasons we tend to misevaluate others:

  1. Highlight Bias: We tend to see only the best work of others. Social media, portfolios, and public appearances usually showcase highlights, not the everyday struggles and failures. This creates a skewed perception, making the average seem extraordinary.

  2. Survivorship Bias: We notice the successful and forget the unsuccessful. We see those who have “made it” and assume they represent the norm, forgetting about the countless others who did not achieve similar recognition. This can also be the cause of false hope or unreasonable expectations.

  3. Self-Doubt: Our insecurities magnify the abilities of others while diminishing our own. When we’re new or feeling unsure, it’s easy to assume that everyone else is more competent or experienced. This is why self-esteem is so important to develop and has benefits way beyond our personal life.

The Power of Consistent Effort

The reality is, most people in any field do not consistently put in the effort required to excel.

They may dabble, they may get distracted, or they may not push themselves beyond their comfort zones.

This is where you can gain a significant advantage with:

  1. Regular Practice: Dedicate time regularly to practice and improve. Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000-Hour Rule” from his book Outliers suggests that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to achieve mastery in any field. This number is also highlighted again in “Mastery” by Robert Greene (highly recommend this reading). While this is debated, the core idea that consistent practice leads to improvement holds true.

  2. Focused Learning: Instead of trying to master everything at once, focus on key skills that will give you the most leverage. For instance, in photography, mastering light and composition can dramatically improve the quality of your work more quickly than trying to learn every possible technique at once. Once you get the basics (which are admittedly easy to acquire), you can then move on to things like long exposures, more advanced settings…

  3. Incremental Improvement: Aim for small, consistent improvements rather than overnight success. If you improve by just 1% every day, your progress compounds significantly over time. James Clear talks a lot about this concept in his world-famous “Atomic Habits” book. This approach makes the journey manageable and less overwhelming.

The Real Secret to Outperforming the Majority

To truly stand out, you don’t need to be the best from the start.

And there is no way you would be the best at it anyway from the very start. So drop that idea.

You just need to be better than average and willing to put in the work. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Commit to Consistency: Make a commitment to show up regularly and put in the effort. Whether it’s daily practice, weekly projects, or monthly goals, consistency beats perfection.

  2. Embrace Feedback: Seek constructive feedback and use it to guide your improvement. Constructive criticism from peers, mentors, or even your audience can highlight areas for growth that you might not see yourself.

  3. Stay Curious and Adaptive: Keep learning and adapting. The world of photography and creativity is always evolving. Stay curious about new techniques, tools, and trends, and be willing to incorporate them into your work.

    Personal recommendation for this one: be transparent on your process. You don’t have to disclaim everything you do. But avoid denying or lying when asked about something.

  4. Network and Collaborate: Surround yourself with others who are also striving for excellence. Collaboration and networking can open doors to new opportunities and provide a support system that propels you forward.

  5. Celebrate Small Wins: Acknowledge and celebrate your progress along the way. Every small win is a step closer to outperforming the majority and reaching your goals.

A Personal Example

When I started with astrophotography and night composites, my initial shots were far from spectacular. But I committed to improving.

I practiced regularly, sought feedback, and learned from both successes and failures.

I was really scared of even starting out, mostly because I was afraid of judgement, or that people would see me as a beginner from the start and never get rid of that image.

Today, I see my work resonating with many because of this consistent effort and dedication.

Within a few years, I found myself surpassing many who had been in the field longer but hadn't maintained the same level of consistent effort or focused effort.

This isn’t to boast or flex but to illustrate that with the right approach, it’s possible to rise quickly and achieve more than you initially thought possible.


Remember, greatness isn’t about innate talent or a head start.

It’s about consistent effort, a willingness to learn, and the courage to keep going even when the path seems difficult.

Most people don’t put in the work needed to excel, or to even be good, which means there’s plenty of room at the top for those who do.

There is always a market for greatness.

So, next time you find yourself intimidated by the level of others, remind yourself that with dedication and consistent effort, you too can outperform the majority and carve your own path to greatness.

By understanding that the gap isn’t as wide as it appears and focusing on steady, consistent improvement, you can achieve remarkable success in any field.

Your journey starts with the commitment to keep moving forward, one step at a time.

If you read that far, I appreciate your time.

See you in the next one,