E is for Expertise in my A to Z of Blogging…
Expertise in Action
This Summer, I was at a garden party for my sister’s birthday (she’s Artist Chloe Birnie).
We sat on makeshift chairs around a blazing firepit in her garden in Devon, surrounded by her friends and family, sipping Roger the neighbour’s homebrew.
Our brother, Lewis, is a professional musician. He plays multiple instruments in several bands (including Yama Warashi). He makes a living gigging and performing at festivals.
Lewis bought his guitar out, and as if he were a circus monkey, we demanded he play this song, or that song – whatever we felt like singing along to. He dutifully obliged, for a while at least.
For all intents and purposes, you can call him an ‘expert’ musician. But he’s not Eric Clapton, or Brian May, or Slash, or Mark Knopfler…
He could play anything we threw at him, as long as he’d heard it, and we were mesmerized.
Then one of my sister’s friends came outside with her 13-year-old son, Adam. He was proudly carrying his own guitar.
Adam sat next to Lewis, his music book on his skinny little lap, eyes passing over the notes as he tentatively strummed along. Lewis encouraged him. Slowed to his stilted pace. It was enough for 13-year-old Adam to feel more confident. His mum encouraged him to play ‘Wonderwall’ – he’d been practising it and knew it confidently. Of course, everyone in the circle knew the words to that one!
Adam had us in thrall, confidently strumming out the notes as we all wailed along.
Although Lewis had been amenable and entertaining, it was Adam who got the standing ovation.
Compared to me, Adam is an expert – I don’t play any instruments, the music ability gene skipped me in the family!
I was so impressed with his skill with a guitar. I can’t even I do air guitar properly, my husband mocks me for holding it backwards!
Whatever you do, there will always be people who will have different levels of expertise and experience.
Bested By A 13-Year-Old
Some won’t have as much as you. I have less guitar playing skills than a 13-year-old boy who knows one song. And some will have more than you. Lewis picked up his first guitar at 13, and 20 years later he earns a living with it (and other instruments)!
I learned early on in my training career that you don’t have to have all the answers on a topic, you just need to know more than the people you serve.
All they want from you is to move one or two steps forwards. As long as you are one or two steps ahead of them, you are more of an expert in that topic than they are.
Even if you only know one small part of a topic and have limited experience.
If the person you serve has no experience in it, you are more of an expert than them.
You may not be THE world’s expert in whatever you do, but you are definitely AN expert in it!
Besides, if you were THE world expert, the chances are, the people you want to serve couldn’t afford you anyway and would probably find you too intimidating to approach!
You as an Expert
One thing you can, categorically, say is that you are THE EXPERT in YOUR business!
Whenever you get those nagging doubts, whenever you compare your progress and perceived success to that other person in your sector, remind yourself that they don’t know it in the way you know it! They’ll have acquired their knowledge from a different route to you, so they will have a different take on it.
Expertise is Relative
If you do come across an aspect of a topic you don’t know enough about, that’s merely an opportunity to work on your own personal development and learn about it.
If someone asks you something you don’t have an answer for, be honest, tell them you don’t know but you will find out. It’s an opportunity for you to learn more so you can help in other ways.
Sharing your expertise in a topic, no matter how limited that may be, is a journey. It’s a process.
You will always be learning new skills and developing what you do and how it serves others.
Just because you don’t know it all now, does not mean you can’t talk about it.
Be Proud of Your Achievements
Give yourself a break, recognise your own achievements and be proud to share your expertise, no matter how limited it may seem to you.