This guest post is by Dan Meyers of Your Life, Their Life.
In general, most of our goals as bloggers center around becoming authorities on subjects—the kinds of authorities that others look to for advice. What’s the title that usually comes with this position? An “expert.”
There are some clear advantages to the title “expert” that are worthy of our efforts. We can gain notoriety and traffic as we leverage our expertise to thoroughly educate everyone. In fact, most people make a career out of their expertise, whether it’s in their normal daily job or in the blog world.
How can you become an expert?
- Read books.
- Interview people who’ve already done it.
- Just do it.
Most successful bloggers have used the formula above, along with some other steps, to get to where they are today. “I don’t know how to do it” is never an acceptable answer for someone who is smart and ambitious enough to learn howto do it.
Steps 1 and 2 will allow you to gain knowledge on a subject, but you really must take step three and just do it. It’s amazing how people start to view you differently when you have a blog on a subject. The instant credibility isn’t always deserved, but it’s a great way to kick-start your business.
We can all become experts on a subject if we learn enough about it. However, there are some clear dangers in becoming an expert—mostly dangers to yourself. Expertise can bring with it an element of “all-knowingness” that begins to turn people off. When you think you know it all, you often refuse to open your mind to outside ideas.
After all, even Einstein became so stuck in his ways that he wasn’t able to grasp the theory of quantum mechanics. He held fast to the theory of relativity that he created, and couldn’t see beyond it. Einstein wasn’t the only one stuck in his ways. In his book, Influence, the Psychology of Persuasion, Stephen Gatto explains, “Invention is the providence of youthful insight.”
After we get stuck in our ways, it’s hard for our minds to continue to develop new ideas and adapt to new circumstances. As the saying goes, to the man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
How do you know if your expertise is harming you?
- You think you have all of the answers.
- You don’t research or listen to anyone else.
- The only person who can stand hanging out with you is your dog.
What’s the ultimate solution to this catch-22? You should strive to be seen as an expert to outsiders, but at the same time you must fight the urge to believe you’re an all-knowing expert. This is easier said than done, because the more knowledgeable we become on a subject, the less we listen to other opinions or ideas.
How can we resist the urge to claim our expertise on a subject?
- Don’t let compliments go to your head.
- Realize you will never know it all.
- Focus on always learning and improving.
The keys to fighting the issues that come with expertise are continual education and an open mind. It also helps to realize what people say about experts!
Stephen Gatto explains his view on expertise when he says, “(expertise) is a lie because the changing dynamics of time and situation and locality render expertise irrelevant and obsolete shortly after it is anointed.” It’s pretty scary to think as soon as you become an expert, you become irrelevant!
Roseanne Barr said, “Experts say you should never hit your children in anger. When is a good time? When you’re feeling festive?” I bet this is the first time Roseanne was quoted on ProBlogger.
Finally, Shunryu Suzuki said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.”
Don’t let expertise limit you and your abilities. I worked at a large consulting firm for seven years, which taught me how to continually change my area of expertise and adapt with the changing times, as explained in the post, “You are a now a Consultant.”
Do you consider yourself an expert on your subject? How do you prevent your expertise from crippling you?
Dan Meyers started Your Life, Their Life to help you take control of your life. Read how he paid off $50,000 of debt in two years and how his strategies can help you.