How To Become An Expert In Your Field
Becoming an expert in your field can fast-track your status and increase your earning potential in your industry. Your expertise has the potential to make you more valuable within your industry.
Learning the steps you can take to become an expert in your field can help you evaluate if you’re ready to master a specific skill and in this article, we discuss what it means to be an expert, the benefits of becoming an expert, and the steps you can take to become an expert.
What does it mean to be an expert?
An expert is someone who achieves exceptionally high-performance levels on a particular task or within a specific subject matter. They are also typically one of the most informed people in their field and achieve far beyond what the average person does. Some of the critical elements of expertise include skills, advanced and in-depth knowledge, and proof of achievements such as recognition or awards.
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Why would you want to become an expert?
Well, let’s look at some of the key benefits of becoming an expert in your field:
- Experts are more likely to be listened to and regarded well for their skill.
- Experts know their skill set and business better than most people.
- Instead of working to create a peer network, they are drawn into one.
- Experts can predict upcoming changes to the marketplace as they follow trends.
- People trust experts and are more likely to believe your opinion when you know more.
- People want to work for experts and are motivated to learn from them.
- Most media rely on input or commentary from experts.
- Experts seem to find each other and trade information and expertise.
- Experts have a greater likelihood to make more money in their careers.
- Career opportunities seem to find experts as they are in demand for their knowledge or skill.
So, if there are some amazing benefits that come with being an expert in your field, how do you start moving down the path of actually becoming an expert? Here are six specific things you can do to become an expert in your field:
1. Focus On What Is Most Important
There are generally many things you need to learn or master in order to become an expert in your field. When you’re getting started with any new skill, start by practicing the foundational concepts and learning basic knowledge first before moving on to more advanced tasks. You can often obtain this basic knowledge through books or by taking a course on the topic.
David Epstein put it simply: “The hallmark of expertise is figuring out what information is important.”
There are many components to any skill but practicing them all doesn’t produce the same results.
Tim Ferriss, bestselling author of ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ said: Do an 80-20 analysis and ask yourself, “Which 20% of these things I need to learn will get me 80% of the results that I want?”
When Tim was learning chess from champion Josh Waitzkin (whose life was the basis for the film “Searching for Bobby Fischer“) they did things the opposite from how most chess instruction works.
They didn’t start with the beginning of a chess game. They jumped straight to key moves that are applicable to the majority of interactions on the board. This allowed Tim to hang with top players after only a few days of practice.
2. Engage In Deliberate Practice
Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers suggests that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in your field or at any one task. While that seems like a huge number, let’s break it down. If you work a 40-hour week, and you spend every moment at work practicing that specific task at which you want to gain expertise, and you work 50 weeks per year, it only takes about 5 years to hit the 10,000-hour mark. If you think you are going to remain healthy and love what you do professionally, then five years really is not that long.
In order to be an expert in your field, there’s no substitute for time. It takes dedication, discipline, and focus. Becoming an expert requires a sincere, genuine desire to do the work. If you aren’t passionate about something, you won’t become an expert at it.
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3. Find a Mentor
It’s critical to work with a mentor who has expertise in the area you’re learning or who has skills that are more advanced than your own. The best mentor is someone who is already an expert in your field and is using the skill or knowledge on a regular basis. Find someone who genuinely cares about your performance and is invested in your success, such as a supervisor at work or another colleague who has expertise in the field.
Luke had Yoda. The Karate Kid had Mr. Miyagi. I’m sure Kung Fu Panda had somebody but I never saw that movie. You get the picture.
Anders Ericsson, the professor who did the research behind the “10,000-hour rule” said mentors were vital.
Shane Snow, the author of Smartcuts, said “In great mentorship relationships the mentor doesn’t just care about the thing that you’re learning, they care about how your life goes. They are with you for the long haul. They are willing to say, “No,” and to tell you what you’re doing is wrong. Those kinds of relationships yield outsized results in terms of future salaries and happiness”.
4. Become a Thought Leader
Experts are never content with the status quo. They’re always looking for the next “evolution” of their profession and are constantly trying new techniques, improving on existing concepts, exploring new ideas, and adding value. They’re always looking to push the boundaries and expand the limits of their field. Experts are at the forefront, leading the way for the future of their profession. Start small with perhaps a blog, training others, speaking at small events or industry conferences, or posting very specific updates in your social media around your area of expertise. You have to be seen as someone who confidently shares information and expects nothing in return.
Experts become more valuable by sharing their skills and knowledge. They always want to be of service to their professional community. If you want to be seen as an expert in your field, put your expertise out there for all to benefit from. Do not be afraid of being judged. Put your thoughts and ideas, based on your expertise, out there. Becoming a thought leader is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Do lots of little things well.
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5. Redefine Your Network
Jim Rohn, personal development guru, says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Scary isn’t it? Think about who those 5 people are for you. If you want to “up” your professional game, you need to surround yourself with people who elevate you. Expertise is always contagious. By spending time with people who are themselves experts in your field, you will naturally “catch” some of their wisdom. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Listen as they share their insights. Find ways to spend more time in their presence.
6. Never Stop Learning
You would think at some point experts will have learned everything they could learn to be, well, experts. Wrong. Experts never stop learning. As a matter of fact, most people once they become an expert in their field, will commit to learning more. You see, once you are an expert and begin to enjoy the benefits of being an expert, you will want to stay an expert. So experts read more, continue to educate themselves through courses and workshops, regularly gather knowledge from other experts, and so on.
The more you learn, the more you will be able to understand the world and what needs to be done in order to become the professional you want to be.
If you are going to do something professionally in your life like being a great programmer, marketer, accountant, lawyer, etc. then you might as well try and become an expert. The benefits are amazing.
Do all six things and now you’re The Master. Know what else you are? Happier.
When you’re good at something and you do it often, the result isn’t just promotions or more wins on the tennis court, you also smile more often.
People who deliberately exercise their “signature strengths” — talents that set them apart from others — on a daily basis became significantly happier for months.
Are you ready to grow your business and become an expert in your field? We can help you chart your path with a step-by-step plan. Contact us here to find out how we can help.
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