Are You an Expert?

It’s ridiculous to assume that just because you have access to Google, suddenly you’re an expert on anything you can find on the internet. Do experts even exist anymore in the age of information? Yes, they do, but how do you know if you’re an expert?

Conventional wisdom says that after you’ve worked for seven years in a field, read a certain number of pages on a topic, earned a particular degree in an area or researched an area enough you are now an expert. The reality is that these all contribute to developing your expertise, but none of them, by themselves, accomplish that for you.

If you are going to be an expert in a field you have to gain the knowledge, do the work, and demonstrate ability.

Here are some steps you must take if you intend to be an expert:

Read More: The stats are consistent; people don’t read enough. You aren’t going to gain the knowledge you need by just engaging in conversation, watching Ted Talks, or attending a seminar. Research has shown that when you read more, you are a better thinker. People who are experts in their fields can interpret information about their subject matter, and that is a large part of why they speak with authority.

Broaden Your Intake: Often people think they need to spend all their time focused on learning just their particular area; this is a huge mistake. Learn about other fields. You’ll be surprised how much you will learn about your area of focus by expanding what you know about others. I mentioned above you need more than conversation, Ted Talks, and seminars, but those are also excellent sources to broaden your knowledge base.

Do the Work: A ranking member of a church denomination once told me that they could never do work for the homeless because first, they would do surveys, then they would write books about the studies, and finally they would hold seminars about how to do it effectively without ever having done the work. If you want to be an authority in your field, you need practical experience. Find opportunities to do the job.

Establish Your Credentials: As you put together your knowledge and skills, you will have a track record that demonstrates your ability. When interviewing higher level managers, I ask them about conflict resolution, program creation, and compliance. I also question their references about their track record, looking for specific examples that demonstrate their acumen. You aren’t the one who gets to proclaim your expertise; others do that for you. When you combine your knowledge, experience, and accomplishments in the field, then and only then, have you earned the privilege of expertise.


Question: How are you establishing yourself as an authority? What about your process will prevent you from having to self-declare your expertise? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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