What is an expert? Throughout my career the functional definition has been, someone I trust who knows more than me. Perhaps that is a fair definition for a mentor, someone who can help you see and reach beyond your current skills and abilities, but this likely isn't a sufficient definition for a subject matter expert. If you are interested in this topic, I think you will enjoy Episode 94 of The DYOJO Podcast as well as some of the quotes included in this blog post.
An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.
I think there is a humility factor in becoming someone whom others perceive to be an expert. I find that the things that I know well are those things that I learned by failing. It is comforting to know that there are others who view the world in this way as well. If you want to become an expert, the first step is to be willing to fail. The fear of failure is often more dangerous than failure itself. When we fail we can learn and try again.
An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.
In order to excel in one area, do you have to prioritize your time and effort? I have heard that the difference between good and great is a small gap, but the difference between good, great, and elite is expansive. John Wooden coached UCLA basketball from 1948 to 1975, during that time his teams competed in a record 38 consecutive NCAA tournament games. Each offseason coach Wooden would study an aspect of the game to help keep himself sharp and hungry to improve. He said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
Expertise is a combination of training, education, and experience.
Aside from being a shameless plug to listen to my podcast so that you can hear these words from Bob's mustachioed lips yourself, there is great wisdom in his mantra. Mr. Blochinger has developed his career over many years of being a contractor, flooring installer, and now third-party consultant and expert witness, by applying the principles he shares. Bob has sought out training with practitioners, industry education and certification, and learning from his own experiences as well as that of others in his network.
An expert is somebody who is more than 50 miles from home, has no responsibility for implementing the advice he gives, and shows slides.
I can remember the first time a company I worked for hired an outside consultant to assist them in growing their business. If memory serves me correctly, I believe Edwin Meese's definition fit the representatives of that business consulting firm perfectly. As we discuss on my podcast, I think this is why the most helpful experts are those who have relevant experience in applying the principles that they are coaching their clients with.
An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgements simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.
Another great mind, author and consultant Lex Sisney, shared a simple principle that has stuck with me. Whenever you are working to improve something, in yourself or your team, ask what must I STOP doing and what must I START doing to achieve the IDEAL. If we combine the concepts in this blog, the roadmap to expertise incudes filtering those things that are (even if only for the moment) distractions so that you can narrow your focus on what is important.
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.