The Journey of an Expert
Have you ever looked on in amazement at someone who seemed so perfect at what they were doing? Did you wonder if they were always this good, born a natural or did you picture them practicing for hours upon hours? There are certainly individuals like Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter, Julia Roberts and Bill Gates, just to name a few, who have “God Given” physical attributes and mental talents which they have honed in through focus and practice to excel in their respective areas. We call these flawless beings EXPERTS. The Webster Dictionary defines the word Expert as having or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience. What does it take to master something if the golden touch was not wrapped up in your DNA? Expertise simply comes from a person acquiring several key insights over a period of time.
Let’s examine a few EXPERT DON’Ts on the journey before we highlight what people do on their quest for expertise.
- The most important is don’t try to become an expert in something you really do not care about. Doing this is like expecting to become an A+ student in the class you used to fall asleep in. The foundation of every expert is a passion for what they do which is required for such a long road. You may want to make a laundry list of all the things that spark your interest or you enjoy doing. The list can help you identify opportunities where you can truly succeed in developing an in depth understanding on your chosen subject.
- The second don’t – is being unaware of your personal limitations. I am as much of a dreamer as the next optimistic but no matter how many acting classes I take at The Juilliard School of Drama in New York; I’ll never match acting chops with America’s Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts.
- The last don’t – is assuming that people become experts alone. Your pursuit does not have to be an isolated voyage of you crashing against the sea of uncertainty. You would be surprised at how many established experts are open to helping you because they remember how they began. They are also usually excited about their topic and ready to share their knowledge. The key is using their time wisely and asking the right questions.
Now, on to becoming an expert, you must have clear intention and drive. Although at FUN Enterprises we have learned many things through trial and error, ultimately our expertise has evolved by being very purposeful in how memorable we wanted our client’s experience to be. We have acquired a body of knowledge for over 20 years which translates to a great event for clients. Why are you seeking to establish a specialty? When you have your why, the how becomes easier. Clarity of intention is critical and will serve as the fuel for your drive.
Make No Mistake, There Will Be Mistakes
Trial and error along with experiential learning is a good degree of how people obtain expertise. There is no escape; resistance is futile, get it through your head, failure is inevitable especially when you are seeking to gain command of a field. Any expert will tell you that your response to these missteps is what determines the difference between you and a novice. Thomas Edison, an expert on electricity and father of the light bulb stated the following in answer to his many broken attempts to bring illumination to our homes, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He was open to the process of making assessments and changing variables until he accomplished his goal. Leadership author John C. Maxwell explains that competence and expertise comes from making a series of mistakes and learning from them. For an encouraging read I highly recommend his book “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success.” Diving in and getting some blunders under your belt means wisdom is on its way!
Paying The Price
There is tons of free information on any keyword search via a Google, Yahoo or Bing but at some point you have to pay either with be in money or time. What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to become an expert? One of my favorite quotes is “People want to be in the spotlight but they are not willing to pay the electricity bill.” You may have to return to school, attend seminars, get coaching or work for a company to learn. Ultimately, there is a price to pay to become an expert.
Where Do You Start?
The first step I recommend is to make your list of interest. You can then start your preliminary research for your selected topic through legitimate websites to dive in deeper. Here are a few examples:
Once you start feeling a little more confident you may consider starting a blog to position yourself as an expert and get consistent fresh feedback from people who are engaged in your subject matter. You could also publish a few articles on www.digg.com which is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. The Digg.com community votes for articles and submissions they feel are the best, most helpful or expert and those pieces will surface to the top during various searches. This is a great way to test out your expertise.
In addition, I have found that something as simple as picking up the phone and asking a questions to be very powerful because some people genuinely want to help and they will answers questions, provide you with further resources and give you key terms to build on. Don’t be afraid to be viewed as silly; remember every expert was once a beginner. People do not become experts overnight; it is a journey. When you enjoy the process and embrace the challenges, building expertise can be a very rewarding experience.
For more thoughts on The Journey of an Expert, see: http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-best-way-to-become-an-expert.html
Michelle Phipps-Allen; Business Development Manager