Thank you for reading my articles here. If any piece resonates with you, I encourage you to share your reactions, as they will likely resonate with other readers, too. I also invite you to visit my website to learn more about REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life. Much Love and Many Blessings, Alice

Friday, May 27, 2011

I’m not an expert

Earlier this week, I went to a social media strategy event. One of the speakers started off her talk with the disclaimer that she’s not an expert. Quoting Michelangelo, she said that she’s still learning. She shared a lot of knowledge and insights in her presentation, which easily qualified her to be an expert on the topic. However, she personally refused that attribution. Her stance flew in the face of social norm and expectations. After all, we seek out experts to teach us what we want to know, don’t we?

The label of “expert” says that we have recognized credentials, experience and knowledge to provide something of value to others. More importantly, when we’re considered experts, we can quiet our inner critic -- a.k.a. our ego -- whose job is to prevent us from taking risks. It makes us question every step of the way whether we’re qualified to do what we want to do.

Most of us have dealt with this qualification process at least once in our lives when we were just starting out in our careers. We felt a tremendous amount of insecurities and fear of failing, and we were convinced that everyone could see through the imposters we were, how little we knew and how much we should know. We somehow managed through the growing pains to achieve the level of expertise needed to satisfy our inner critic. We vowed to ourselves -- consciously or unconsciously -- never to go through this process of having to prove ourselves again.

“Expertise” is really a nice, socially-sanctioned label for our comfort zone. Once we’re established in our comfort zone, unless we truly love what we do, the drive to learn and to grow in that area dissipates. In the academic world, for instance, assistant professors sign up for 6 years of slaving away to get tenure, to establish their expertise in their fields. Once they get there, the need to prove themselves to their peers is met, at least until it’s time for promotion from associate to full professorship. Only a minority remains productive researchers throughout their careers. They are the ones who truly love what they do, and they remain passionate about furthering knowledge in their chosen fields, to serve the world in those chosen capacities. In short, they are experts who continue to learn and refine their craft.

By nature, I love to learn and grow, and I’m motivated to be my best in whatever I choose to do. Expertise often comes as a by-product, not the overt goal. What’s most critical to me is that I love what I choose to do, how I choose to serve. That’s why I can never be complacent in any area just because I've built expertise in it. That’s why I can never stay in my comfort zone too long if I feel the nudge to grow. 

That’s also why I’m doing just fine in managing my ego’s protestations about my career change. While I have transferable experience, skills and credentials in teaching, speaking and coaching, I’m not yet an objectively sanctioned expert in the area of personal empowerment. My book will help, and I'll do what it takes to establish expertise with those who need such proof. However, my primary focus is not to prove myself an expert. Instead, I want to remain grounded in the great passion I have for helping others believe in themselves and transform their lives -- to share what I know and what I've learned in my own path to transformation. I also have a bottomless desire to keep learning and growing myself, to be the best version of myself in service. Louise Hay considers the best teachers the ones who never stop learning themselves. I agree with her wholeheartedly.

Expert or not, I’m most certainly still learning. I’m also here to serve right now.

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