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How To Not Be an Expert

How To Not Be an Expert

February 7, 2013

The marketing industry has been against the social media ninjas, gurus, and mavens of the world. Gee, I wonder why.

But this isn’t yet another post about the “fake gurus” of the world. Because we definitely don’t need another post about them.

We need to talk about the real “experts” of the world. Please read with an open mind.

Honing expertise, knowing about your industry, and keeping up with trends is crucial. I’m not knocking this. And the words “expert” and “specialist” offer a certain uniformity that’s necessary in many industries.

It’s just that…uniformity isn’t always a good thing.

Because the self-proclamation of being an “expert” or “specialist” is slapping on a label. The label can then act as a shield which can breed narrow-minded thinking. It can give permission to get sucked into minutia, where you focus on information that no one outside of your expertise can understand. This is good and bad.

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Titles such “expert” and “specialist” bring the subliminal need to “be right.”

If you’re a pilot or surgeon, you should be an expert. No one wants you to be wrong at your job.

But if you’re an “expert” or “specialist” in a creative field, or if you’re in a field that’s not life or death, it’s important to recognize the need to not always be right. And it’s important to examine word choice. Because words frame your thinking. And thinking frames your creative expertise:

Specialists often get stuck in inside-the-box thinking. They can also get distracted with the politics of their field or in debates about minutiae. To avoid that, specialists must talk regularly with colleagues from related but different disciplines, and seek out rebels and dissidents at the margin of their fields, listening to their perspectives with an open mind.

Everyone’s reality is structured differently. When your reality is structured so that you’re an “expert” it can limit perspective. And it can give off a sense of self-important intellectualism that makes a soul as stiff as cardboard.

Be careful how you choose words. And be conscious of what your words convey.

“Expert” speaks for itself (literally and figuratively).

But results scream louder.

Reach out today if your company needs help with thought leadership or content strategy.