Can You Ever Lose Expert Status?

Updated: March 9, 2012

Amanda DiSilvestro

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This is a guest post from Amanda DiSilvestro.

Most people agree that it takes a long time to really reach expert status, but how long does it take to lose it? Is expert status something that comes and goes, or do you have it forever? After all, being an expert means knowing everything you can about a particular craft, no matter how specific. You could be an expert Apple pie maker, and expert business owner, or a social media expert, but what if you quit?

Can something that takes so long to earn be taken away so quickly?

Two Ways To Lose Expert Status

This led me to consider the two types of milestones that can be lost in the blink of an eye:
  1. Someone who has a type of physical achievement. You may work your whole life to get in shape and finish that triathlon, but the minute you give up your superman cardiovascular endurance will quite right along with you.
  2. Someone who has a type of mental achievement. You may work your entire life as an accountant, but if you give it up to live the life of a golfer, how will your math skills hold up? Anything that involves your mind needs to stay sharp and be practiced if it’s going to last.
Not only can you lose knowledge because you have given up, but you can lose knowledge because of age. As people grow older, it’s hard to stay on top of the times and do things that were once easier to a young body and a young mind.

Do You No Longer Consider These People Experts?

This analysis seemed a bit negative, so I think it helps to consider some popular figures who fell into one of the above categories:
  1. Albert Einstein is an expert mathematician, yet his theory of special relativity will likely be proved wrong. Not only is he slowly being proved wrong, but some scientists of today are even calling him, in so many words, “clueless.”
  2. Paul McCartney is considered an expert songwriter, yet his most recent album did not get near the praise he got when he was a Beatle.
  3. Bruce Jenner is considered an expert runner, yet now he is more famous and well-known for being the step-father of Kim Kardashian.
So did these people lose their expert status? When their bodies give up, their ideas are proven wrong, or their talent only lasts for so long, are they no longer worthy of the title “expert?” I say absolutely NOT.

Once you have the title expert, you have that title. An expert doesn’t mean being perfect, it simply means that at one time or another you were exceptional in your field. While some people may fall into the “used to be an expert” category; the title is still associated with that name. It shouldn’t matter whether or not someone comes along and does it better, or whether or not you’re not in your prime anymore. Albert Einstein will forever be considered an expert, and I don’t think anyone would argue with that.

Do you think you can ever lose your expert status?


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