• Sara Torpey

How Do You Become ‘The Expert’?

Updated: Dec 8, 2019

We all rely on assistance from experts, often all day long. We look up to ‘the expert’ in a given field or area to help us learn and grow. And many of us want to be like that expert - leading our field, and held up as an example as someone to learn from.

So here’s the question: how did the person become 'the expert'? How do you get from here to there, to the place where you are ‘the expert’ in whatever thing you’re great at? How do you become the one other people go to and want to learn from?

This is something I have come up against myself. Let me explain. I used to be in a role where I attended lots of conferences. When I could, depending on the work I had to do, I usually made a point to go to the conference keynote session. I did this mostly for me, really, because they were great speakers, and I left having learned something new and feeling lifted in some way or another.

I was once sitting in huge ballroom, listening intently to a keynote speech given by an absolutely amazing woman. She was polished, and smart, and engaging - all the things you want a speaker in that spot to be. She began with the content of her speech and worked in her biographical details over the course of the talk. And slowly, over the hour or so, it turned out that her details - age, background, and experiences - were very (very) similar to my own.

And the realization that we were very similar work-wise should have made me feel even more connected. But it didn’t. Actually, it stopped me from really listening at a certain point. Why? Because all I could think was “Wow. We’re very similar in the work we’ve done, and the places we’ve been - how come she gets to be the expert on the stage?”

To be honest, I found that I was kind of angry. It was “Who does she think she is to be up there, while I’m here?” and “What gives her the right to be ‘the expert’? I know more about ___ she does!” I was frustrated enough about it, actually, that I shared my feelings with a few close friends, and my husband. To my amazement, they all gave me the same basic answer - it was kind of tough love at the time, but it was what I needed to hear. And really, they were right.

No one gave her permission. She knew the topic well, and decided to share what she knew with others. That made her ‘the expert’.

Stop and think on that for just a second. No one gave her permission. She didn’t need it. She knew her stuff, and that, along with the decision to actively reach out and share, made her ‘the expert’.

That’s it.

That was an amazing realization for me. And here’s what it means in the day-to-day: if the keynote speaker is an expert because she knows her area super well, and made the active decision to share what she knows with others, then you can be an expert too.

I can be ‘the expert’.

You can be ‘the expert’.

The only difference between me at that conference and the keynote speaker was that she was willing to stand up and say that she that had expertise to share.

The most amazing thing about expertise is that we ALL have it. We are, each and every single one of us, an expert in something. You know your stuff - whatever your stuff is - and to become ‘the expert’ what you need to figure out is how to share what you know and how you know it.

Really. That is all there is to it.

And there are couple of key things you don't need.

You don’t need to wait until you know your stuff 1000%. No one, not even the most expert of the experts knows it all. That’s not a reasonable expectation to wait around for.

You also don’t need to wait for someone to come and ask you if you are an expert, or for you to come and be their expert. You (mostly) don’t need someone to tell you that you have reached a certain level to go forth and share what you know (the exceptions might be medical or financial professionals, or other areas of expertise where certifications matter!). As long as you aren’t giving medical or financial advice, you don’t need permission to share your expertise.

You are already an expert - you just haven’t told anyone yet.

And you know what else? You need to share your expertise.

When you don’t share what you are best at with the larger world, because you are waiting for the permission slip, or for the invitation that’s never going to come, you deprive other people of the chance to learn from you.

When you don’t share your strengths, you do a disservice to yourself because you are not using what you know to do good in the world around you. You do a disservice to others because they miss out on the lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, and hard-fought knowledge that you carry around with you and aren’t sharing.

You are an expert. Stand up and share it.

Stand up and own what you are good at.

You know your stuff. Go share what you do best.

I love learning from experts. I look forward to learning from you.

I am a coach who works with businesses and business people at the point of big change in their life and business. We focus on not just making the change, but effectively stepping into their expertise in smart, manageable, sustainable ways that actually work for their life work. My superpowers are listening and helping others to sort through the chaos (both in their world and in their heads!) to raise the best of all of it to the top so they know where and how to take action. If you need my kind of help, let's talk - send a pm on Facebook, or choose a time here to set up a time to chat!

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