Falling Into the Expertise Trap
When you’re an expert you can charge more. You have an unequivocal new level of professionalism. It can be associated with being a high performer. It can separate you from your competition. It can also lead to arrogance and a blinkered view that will be detrimental to your success as an expert. For true expertise, enjoy what Buddhists call ‘beginner’s mind.’
Let’s explore these five behaviours that will inhibit your success:
- Using jargon
- Blinkered vision
- Not looking for fresh ideas
- Losing your curiosity
- Reluctance to making/admitting mistakes
You may have every qualification on a specific area of training and can explain cause and effect strategies, but your prospect or your client can not. While it will sound impressive using jargon, it can be confusing for your clients.
I have heard trainers explaining various training cycles, movement patterns, nutritional guidelines, and more to their clients. They are too busy espousing their knowledge to notice that their client’s eyes are glazing over.
The best experts are the ones who can take the most technical and scientific information and translate that into language that the average person can understand. When we are explaining anything we must use the language that they would use. By using their language they will see that you care about them. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
YOU HAVE BLINKERED VISION
Every day around the world there are researchers working to find better ways for us to exercise and new information is shared for us to help our clients. Often, as an expert, we don’t read this material, we don’t acknowledge the new research, and we are not open to doing new things.
Often, as an expert, it is just easier to keep doing things the way we have always done them. We are comfortable. We know what we are doing. But we are blinkered and narrow-minded.
Challenge your assumptions. The best experts are the ones who are open to learning. They want to explore new ways of doing things. They want to give their clients the latest and the greatest training technique as that shows their clients they are continually researching to get better.
Your narrow mindedness will lead to over confidence and even arrogance. This is the beginning of the end for an expert. When you think you know everything, you have become like an apple that has fallen from the tree: ripe and rotting. Stay green and growing and you will be successful.
LOOK FOR FRESH IDEAS
When you are an ‘expert’ you often become insular in your thinking. Harvard Business Review terms this as ‘intellectually cloistered.’ Your peers don’t, and sometimes can’t, challenge you as they used to because you know it all.
Some suggestions to always seek new ideas include:
- Have a trusted circle of people who you value their thoughts and insights. This circle allows you to present ideas to for feedback, or ask questions to and then be open to their ideas.
- Find new people in and out of the industry to become a source of ideas for you.
- Develop a peer who also has a similar expertise and the two of you can support, learn, and grow together. It’s a hyper-connected world – this peer could be local or international.
Curious means you really want to know something! It eats away at you and you have an unwavering focus to find out the secret sauce! When you are curious, you ask loads of questions, explore more, and learn to a greater depth.
An expert can still be someone who asks questions. An expert can still be someone who is curious about the secret sauce. This curiosity strengthens you as an expert as you learn and look at many things from different perspectives. Curiosity is a powerful trait to maintain.
RELUCTANCE TO MAKING/ADMITTING MISTAKES
None of us remember learning to walk and yet we are all now walking experts. When we initially learned, we made many mistakes as we lost balance, fell, got up again, fell, got up again, and perhaps repeated this many times. This experimentation did not scar us for life; it helped us learn a new skill.
Often, when we consider ourselves an expert, we don’t experiment or try new things. We even fail to admit making a mistake. We simply stop taking risks for fear of failure. For us to grow and get better, we must push limits and try, even if it means falling on our face as we did as child!
The real learning for most leaders comes from making mistakes. Outstanding leaders acknowledge a mistake and learn from it. They identify actions that lead to that mistake or can clearly articulate the lessons learned. In fact, every month why not have an audit where you write down everything you have tried in the month. This number could be a new KPI for your business and personal development.
An area of expertise can be a differentiating factor. It can allow you to niche your service. There is, however, a huge cavern between being an expert and working in a niche. They are completely different and should not be confused. The best leaders may, or may not, work in a niche, but they are those who remain humble and hungry. You can be an expert, just remain humble and hungry for knowledge, wisdom, and success.