Have you ever been asked a question you don’t know how to answer?
Maybe you’re participating in a workshop, giving a podcast interview, or simply tagged in a Facebook post as a relevant ‘expert’ who should be able to help.
Suddenly you’re on the spot, in a very public way.
One part of you is flattered and excited… and the other part of you curls up in fear. Because there’s something about that ‘expert’ word that makes you bristle.
Expert? Me? I’m no expert…. I only know about X… I don’t know anything about Y, and I’m still trying to figure out Z…
All your fears and insecurities and feelings of ‘just making it up’ roar to the surface. You’re palms are clammy. You start worrying about saying the ‘wrong’ thing… or how to say the ‘right’ thing. You’re free falling out of flow and into ‘not good enough’…
Whoa…stop right there. Let’s examine that word ‘expert’ for a moment.
It is after all, just a word. But it feels like a loaded term, right? Something we associate with PhDs and academic accolades, a sort of mythical status for ‘other’ people to attain.
According to dictionary.com, an expert is ‘a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field’ – or a ‘specialist’ or ‘authority’.
It doesn’t say ‘a person who knows EVERYTHING about a subject’.
It doesn’t say ‘a person who has a flawless answer for every single question in a live workshop or a podcast interview’.
Marketing, writing, coaching, art, nutrition, design, social media, photography, psychology… there isn’t necessarily a black and white answer in any of these fields. There’s room for many, many different ideas, philosophies and interpretations. Many voices, many approaches.
Maybe you don’t need to be the most authoritative person in your field.
Maybe you only need to be expert enough.
- Expert enough to help your audience over this hurdle they are currently facing.
- Expert enough to show them how to take the next right step and the one after that…
- Expert enough to know how to find out the answer to a question (even if you can’t answer it off the top of your head).
So what does it really take to be expert enough?
It takes commitment
Commitment to this path you have chosen. Commitment to ongoing learning and to personal growth. Commitment to read and listen and absorb all you can about this work, and to translate these concepts into ideas that others can learn from and implement.
It takes courage
Courage to believe in yourself. Courage to take ownership of your knowledge and skills, to believe that you have something valuable to share, to know in your bones that someone out there needs to hear what you have to say. Courage to be willing to be the one who stands up and says it.
It means letting go
Letting go of what others think – like your former colleagues, or your old clients, or even your friends. If they’re not your ideal customer, then it doesn’t matter what they think of your work. They were never going to buy from you anyway.
Most of all, it means letting go of perfection. You don’t have to pretend to know everything or to have the perfect answer for every occasion.
You don’t have to be the absolute authority in your field.
You just have to be expert enough.
So are you?
Have you ever struggled with feeling ‘expert enough’? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
And if you need help owning (and articulating) your area of expertise check out my signature Start with the Heart sessions – just a few spots left before the end of the year.