If you cannot believe you are an expert, no one else will believe it. To be seen as an expert you must first become the expert and that requires more than skill. It requires emotional and psychological buy-in from you! You are the first person that must believe if you want others to spend money on your expertise.
Related Article – No One Can Make You Believe You’re an Expert
What is an Expert? Google describes an expert as “a person who has comprehensive knowledge [or skill] in a particular area.” I would add that the expert has the experience and wisdom that allows them to apply this comprehensive knowledge and skill.
- experts are the authority to answer our questions
- the opinions of experts are correct
- authorities agree on the application of their knowledge or skill
Because of these assumptions people worry they cannot be seen as an expert because they cannot answer all the questions, they are not always right, and they often don’t agree with other authorities in the field. Here is an example from history that shows how wrong experts can be and still be seen as experts.
Tongue Map (image taken from Wikipedia)
A mistranslation of a German paper in 1901 allowed our society to believe this myth that the tongue had areas that were covered in taste receptors that could only recognize one basic taste. Because the person that made the translation and then created their own research, was seen as an expert, his interpretation of the research was accepted as the truth. It was taught in schools and used as a foundational understanding of how our body worked for almost 75 years.
- He was an authority who gave information for other authorities, like teachers, to answer our question about anatomy and psychology.
- He was an expert and he was wrong.
- Other authorities agreed with him until one day another researcher challenged the myth and disproved it.
Should he have been hated or excommunicated from his title? No. He was an expert and he stood up for his understanding based on the most relevant and accurate information he had. He did not willfully try to mislead other experts with his findings.
Should we not believe experts for fear of their mistakes? No. We should always question what we don’t understand, but we need experts to show us the path that has already been taken. We cannot find new information and new understandings by continually revisiting the same knowledge.
Are authorities more dangerous in groups? Yes. When people are afraid to speak out for fear of being ridiculed or seen as incompetent in front of their peers, it is a blow to intellectual, spiritual, and emotional growth. You cannot be a true expert if you are afraid to share what you know. The doctors that first used the term “plasticity” when referring to the neurology of the brain, were not accepted by their peers. There are stories of these experts being completely shunned by the academics, researchers, doctors, and other people in the industry. Because of this, it took nearly 100 years for real breakthroughs in this field that have led to a better understanding of how the brain works and how we can better help people with disorders and damaged brains.
You may not be a ‘Neurologist’ but your expertise is needed. Every person holds some type of expertise and it is needed in the work they are called to do. Find the area where you have comprehensive knowledge or skill and step up into your role as an expert. Remember, the person that focuses on ‘no one thing’ is not an expert at anything. So, focus on your knowledge or skill, work on it, use it daily, grow it and continue to be an expert.
For a few additional words on this subject, check out this video.