Beware of Expert

This may be a controversial topic because the word ‘expert’ is a loaded one – what does ‘expert’ mean to you?  When I hear someone apply the expert label to themselves, it’s always a bit cringey.  

If someone tells me how much they know about something (and perhaps also how they have been disrespected in their field), then I can be reasonably sure they harbor some insecurity issues and their ego has been bruised.  It typically has no reflection on their knowledge and ability.  Talk is like fast food, cheap and easy.  

Frequently self proclaimed experts are just people who enjoy telling you “no” and why “that won’t work”.  It’s most frequently a negative mindset that is dangerous to collaborate with – be cautious when you are paired with this type of person.  They relish in arbitrarily following rules and shutting down ideas.

I would rather work with a combination of two groups of people – some open minded folks with experience AND some other people with limited experience who don’t know what can’t be done.  This is where the real initiative and breakthroughs come from.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying to not have knowledge and ability in your field or not to improve to a very high mastery level.  Kaizen (constant improvement) should be a value we all have locked into our utility belt.

You should however be aware of how you are perceived and how you market yourself.  You can be seen as someone with expertise but also be aware there is something (probably many things) you don’t know, and something you could learn.

Work in a humble way to improve yourself and constantly learn with the awareness that you could unintentionally / accidentally stumble into being an expert.  At which time, you should reset your ego and remember to return to the learning and improvement mindset.

The ‘expert’ knows ‘everything’ and has nothing left to learn.  They also will love to tell you about it.

I can say all this with confidence since I used to be an expert too.  

Author: Nate Funaro

Animation producer / dog rescuer / cocktail maker based in Los Angeles

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