I write this from the background of a course I'm taking online about Youtube and music. I spend money on these courses, for what seems like the promise of opportunity and connections, and yet it's so easy to do the bare minimum and wonder why it's not changing my life. I can't make most of the live sessions, but they are even recorded and still I often don't even make dedicated time to listen to them. I think I'm falling for the trap of thinking that because you paid money, the course will atomically fix you. No no no. You must always put in the work. The work is what changes you. Think about when you sign up for a trainer or gym. You may feel good about your new nutrition plan and exercise routine, but now you have to actually do the things. And not just once... consistently. And through putting yourself through pain and inconvenience, you actually start to grow. You find ways to keep your new habits, and your identity slowly changes with it. You begin to think of yourself as one who works out, which gives you additional willpower to make it happen each day.
I think it can be applied even more acutely in the case of taking online classes or even networking at a conference. Just showing up is a start, but the class or the conference isn't going to do the work for you. You have to go out of your way to say hi to new people at a conference or you're less likely to make new connections. You have to go out of your way to try the things you've learned in a course and to get feedback on it, so that you can actually takeaway some new skill. I think we so earnestly as humans want the shortcut — which is fine if you create it — but we want it given to us. We want to show up and have the world bow down at our feet. But the secret is so simple. You have to actually work harder than the average person to be more successful. And that is hard. Because the average person lives a good life. You have to be willing to work on your passions night after night after work while others watch Netflix. You have to be willing to be consistent with your workout routine while others sleep in and eat delicious donuts. If you do what everyone else does, you'll be in the same position as them as well. That doesn't mean it's wrong, just think about what you really want.