The problem with being an ‘expert’ is this:
Everyone else seems to be an ‘expert’, too.
With the birth of the ‘expert industry’, we’re encouraged to pack up what we know, thread it together with ‘this-was-me-before-and-now-look-at-me’, polish it off with ‘you-too-can-achieve-the-same-results-if-you-buy-my-program’ and BANG…label ourselves an ‘expert’ in our ‘field’.
(There were way too many air quotes in that last paragraph. I’ll drop those now for the sake of simplicity).
You know the pitch. EVERYONE is an expert. We ALL have life experience that automatically grants us expert status.
Disclaimer: I am not saying that the expert industry is bad, lacking integrity, or inferior.
But the problem with all of us being experts is that – by default – it renders us…well…not expert.
An expert (to my mind, anyway) is someone who is regarded as THE go-to source for guidance on a particular topic.
In other words: it has an air of superiority to it. And for good reason. The effort has been exponential. Thousands and thousands of hours mastering a craft. Years and years of study, devotion, and dedication to the cause.
If you label yourself as an expert, you are essentially saying: I know considerably more about this topic than the majority of other people do.
If this is genuinely true, and you really ARE an expert in the purest sense, go for it. Shout your expert status from the rooftops. You’ve earned it, and you speak with integrity when you say you’re an expert in your field.
For most of us, however, claiming ourselves to be an ‘expert’ can be the source of a whole lot of internal ickiness.
Most heart-centred solopreneurs I know are not experts. Not really.
They’re generous, selfless people who don’t even want to be an expert in anything – they just want to do good work, and pass on the things they’ve learned along the way.
They don’t want to be experts.
They don’t want the pressure that comes with being an expert.
(And they definitely don’t want the responsibility that comes with the label).
Because isn’t that what this really is? A label…and one that has a particularly difficult standard to live up to?
If you’re an expert, people have a certain expectation from you. What if they take your advice, and find out you weren’t that much of an expert after all?
All the legal templates in the world can’t protect you from the misery caused by someone suffering because of something you suggested, or put forward as ‘the’ solution.
On the flip side of the expert coin, I worry about the social impact the expert industry may be having – that we don’t even see.
How many solopreneurs are claiming to be ‘health experts’, when they don’t have the adequate training?
How many solopreneurs are claiming to be ‘business experts’, when they haven’t even been in business for a year?
How many solopreneurs are claiming to be ‘weight loss experts’, with methods that are not regulated, or even safe?
Of course, we all have to take personal responsibility for the advice we take.
But marketing (especially when it involves manipulating people’s emotions and insecurities to get the sale) and experts-who-aren’t-really-experts – to my mind – is a volatile, risky scenario.
I realise as I bring this post to a close that I went off on a little rant. Totally unintended, but it’s on my mind.
I shall end with the point I set out to make:
There is NO shame in not being an expert in something. Click To Tweet
You don’t HAVE to position yourself as an expert to run a highly lucrative business.
I’m proof. I’ve never once claimed myself to be an ‘expert’, and I’m doing well enough.
If the expert label gives you the icks, let it go.
Focus on doing good work instead.
Get out there in the trenches. Get your hands dirty. Give generously where it is needed most.
You don’t need to be an ‘expert’ to make a difference. You can do that simply by sharing what you know, in all its beautifully fractured and senseless glory.
Have thoughts on this? Let’s discuss below!