To Be An Expert: It’s About Time
Expert. This is a word to embrace while also being cautious about using too casually.
The truth is, how many of us truly rise to expert status in anything. The answer lies in how you define that word.
What does being an expert even mean?
Is it competence? Is it experience? Is it confidence? Is it specialization? Is it something everyone has, or just a few?
Caution of Charisma vs Expertise
Many who profess to be experts have something that is perceptually better than expertise. They have unshakeable confidence and capability to impress their ideas and talents on others with ease. Many have charisma and charisma helps build businesses, there is no doubt. Charisma is so alluring that there are businesses that thrive on charismatic leadership when there is nothing, literally, to buy (think of cult leaders, scammy network sales companies… not the legit ones, some politicians and even some corporate leaders. In fact, my marketing industry has many… I rant and advise how to avoid those kind of marketing “experts” here).
A thriving business that has a charismatic leader also has one of two things: a leader who is charismatic AND an expert or a team of experts behind him or her.
If you are a charismatic person… and some of you ARE… I admire you. If you hone your expertise and have that as the substance behind your charming personality, your success factors are fabulous!
I Am Not Charismatic and That’s Okay
I think I could be. Maybe others think I have a bit of charisma. But I feel more comfortable being an expert… or trying to be. Because in the end, I strongly believe long-term success and personal satisfaction comes from excellence in something. That is my comfort zone.
Excellence can take a lifetime. (tweet this)
Expertise is about putting in the time
How much time do you need to put into your craft to become an expert?
The adorably talented author of Outliers, and thought-leader, Malcolm Gladwell would say 10,000 hours. Have you put 10,000 hours into building your skill set yet? Have you practiced for 10,000 hours at anything?
I sat down to plot my work timeline as a “marketing and communications generalist”, from college graduation in 1993 to now, and roughly estimated the following:
- 21 years since graduation – 11 years since having babies = 10 years working full-time (with lots of extra hours) + 11 years working 10-20 hours per week.
- 10 years x 50 hours per week (estimate) x 48 weeks per year (estimate) + 11 years x 15 hours per week (estimate) x 50 weeks per year = 24,000 + 8,250.
- I’ve spent 32,250 hours of my life being a marketing communications EXPERT! Woohoo.
In the corporate world, I know I was an expert in my field. I am so proud of that work. And as I inch up to my 10,000 hours as a consultant, coach, leader, I am beginning to see the results of my clients and their growth tells me I am becoming an expert in HOW I do this business in this way too.
To know what I do, and do what I do in the way I do it, I just put in the hours… focused hours. I haven’t changed my career once (except for a few years where I dabbled in photography – but let’s be honest, I was having more fun marketing a small business than doing it even though I enjoyed it).
Expertise is also about putting in the effort
I don’t truly think you have to have 10,000 hours invested to be an expert. It is all relative to the scope of difficulty of the craft you are learning, how innately talented you are at it to begin with AND… how big the field of other talents are in what you do.
You are THE expert if you are the only one doing what you do, the way you do it. (tweet this)
So in the end, the effort you must put in also counts. Effort to:
- find the niche, the special thing or way you do what you do
- specialize in an aspect of your industry and showcase it clearly in your brand
- continually develop your skill set to be leading edge
Being an expert does not equal business and financial success. Being known for what you do does. But if you don’t have a “thing” to be known for, success is so much harder.
What kind of expert do you want to be? How will you get there?
Who is in your support team or who do you hire to help you focus focus FOCUS yourself into putting your time where it builds your expertise?
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