How Do You Know When You're Expert Enough?

Updated: January 20, 2012

Dan Johnson

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This is a guest post by Dan Johnson of Right Brain Rockstar.

If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. ~ Unknown
But 'well' is such a subjective term. How do we know how well we need to do things? We may strive for expertise, but how do we know when we have achieved it? Do we need someone to give us a certificate or a medal before we can consider ourselves an expert? And once we achieve 'expert status', does that mean there's nothing more to learn?

First things first - What is an Expert?

The Oxford dictionary defines an expert as a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.

Ok, but again, how knowledgeable do we need to be to be considered very knowledgeable? Who is going to grant us this elusive status? After all, one man's very knowledgeable is another man's Homer Simpson.

Expert Enough to Do What?

As stated in the Expert Enough Manifesto, expertise is relative. You don't have to be the best at something to be considered an expert, but depending on what you want to do, you may need to achieve certain standards.

Obviously if you want to be a doctor, then you need to complete a long course of study, pass your exams to a high level and gain several years experience on the job before you can be considered a medical expert and allowed to treat patients on your own.

But for many less risky professions, there is no specific benchmark you have to reach before you can successfully earn a living. You get to judge your own level of expertise.

If you want to be, say, a guitar tutor, there are no exams you need to pass before you can charge people for your knowledge. You will probably just need to demonstrate to potential customers that you can play to a decent level, and if they are suitably impressed, they will hand over their money in exchange for your expertise.

So many people have the potential to start their own businesses doing what they love, but they put it off, because they don't think they are good enough. They are waiting for someone to grant them expert status.

As an artist, I have suffered from a lack of confidence in my work, and to overcome that, I've decided to take a course to improve my skills. But that doesn't mean I have to wait until I've finished the course before people will value and buy my work.

I'm also contemplating teaching art in some form, and again I have been conflicted with the idea of teaching while I'm still learning. But the fact is, even though I personally don't feel like an expert, I am way more skilled than a lot of people, and people will find value in what I can teach them.

Constant Improvement

You will always have more to learn. Even if you're the best of the best, there is always room for improvement. But at the same time, there will always be people with less experience and skill than you, who will consider you an expert, and find value in what you have to offer.

As for the question of being expert enough, nobody is going to grant you that status, you have to claim it for yourself.

Note from Caleb: Don't forget, this week we launched our new course, How to Start a Blog That Matters. We'd love to have you join us. Check out the 13-week course and see if it is the right fit for you.


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