It’s OK Not to Be an Expert

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you don’t feel like an expert, but are expected to be one?

For some, creating an impression of virtuosity seems effortless. They exude confidence and mastery.

Others find it painfully awkward to have to present themselves as an expert. Especially when they feel more like a novice.

A portion of this game is getting out of your head. Patti Johnson suggests focusing on what you can contribute and what you do know instead of seeking acceptance and approval from others.

Get Unstuck

  • Be comfortable with discomfort. It’s normal to doubt yourself but don’t let it paralyze you.
  • The goal is not to be a guru, the expert or achieve total perfection. Good enough or just enough is often enough.
  • Be open and curious.
  • Identify 3-5 points that you already know about the topic. You probably know more than you think you do.
  • Identify 3-5 areas that you want to understand better. Target what you need to spend time learning and you’ll be less overwhelmed.

Once your mindset has shifted, take advantage of all the ways you can quickly teach yourself. You may not be an expert, but you can sound like one.

How to Get Smart … Fast

  • Ask your network for help. If you’ve taken the time to nurture your relationships, this is a time to reach out to the people who can guide you, offer suggestions and make introductions.
  • Research until you’ve identified 10-20 influencers and experts. Find them on social platforms and follow them. Read their links and posts.
  • Set aside time to access microlearning opportunities through blogs, vlogs, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Subscribe to online trade journals, blogs, magazines and other publications for information served directly to your inbox.
  • Write about it. Writing forces you to slow down and pull ideas together in an organized way.
  • When communicating, ask great questions. You’ll learn more and leave a positive impression by asking insightful questions rather than lecturing and doing all the talking.

The next time you find yourself in a position where you think you need to present yourself as the expert, muster up your confidence and give your ego a rest. Teach yourself the essentials. Arm yourself with fewer answers, and more curiosity.

Marta Steele is a partner at PeopleResults. Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele.

Marta Steele