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Last Updated on September 13, 2018

How to Be A Genuine Expert in Your Field

How to Be A Genuine Expert in Your Field

In 2015, an eighth grader did some research into the story behind the ‘No Irish Need Apply’ signs that were alleged to have existed in 19th century United States. Despite claims in 2002 from a distinguished historian that the signs were a myth and had never existed, the eighth grader Rebecca Fried was able to prove the historian wrong simply by doing some basic research on Google.  Not only did Fried found photographic evidence of the signs – but she found lots of it.[1]

Just because something is stated by an ‘expert’ doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s true.

Back in 1830, scientific writer Dr. Dionysius Lardner said rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.  And in 1903, the president of the Michigan Savings Bank advised Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co because the horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.[2]

There are many more examples like these, and this is why not all experts are as highly regarded as they used to be.

How Society has Raised the Bar for Experts

Until recently, society looked up to and respected all experts and their opinions. However, in our new internet-age, knowledge is available to all at the click of a button.

Previously, years of education, work experience, and formal titles were the ways most people used to recognize experts.  Unfortunately, these are no longer good indicators.  For example, materials studied in the past can now be outdated. And as for those people with extensive work experience, this doesn’t guarantee they operate in an efficient or high-quality way.

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Titles like doctor of ____, or psychologist of ____ are licensed/exams-based, but whether qualifications are up-to-date is open to question.

Judging whether a person is an expert based on the above indicators fails to take into account for the way information and knowledge changes over time. Not all experts will be dedicated enough to keep up with the latest developments in their chosen field.

Traditional experts became experts by taking a lot of time to investigate topics, but nowadays, the internet has massively reduced the time needed to research or learn a topic. You could think of it this way: In the past, experts owned the knowledge, these days this knowledge is freely available on the web.

Clearly, the internet has rapidly shifted information from the hands of those who have it – into the hands of those who do not.[3]

Of course, the development of the internet hasn’t wiped genuine experts of the face of the earth.  We should still respect real experts, especially those who have gone through the stages outlined below.

The Five Stages That All Genuine Experts Must Go Through

The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition lays out five distinct stages that all people must go through on their way to becoming experts.

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    Credit: Dreyfus Model of Learning

    Stage 1: Novice

    • Follows the rules and plans they are taught.
    • Lacks flexibility in handling works and challenges.
    • Doesn’t know how to make judgements based on what they’ve learned.

    Stage 2: Advanced beginner

    • Has more experiences and starts to interpret different situations.
    • Uses the same approach for different situations because they don’t have enough experiences to look deeper at each scenario.

    Stage 3: Competent

    • More holistic in handling problems.
    • Starts to know how to interpret different situations with flexible plans.
    • Starts to formulate their own routines to achieve things.

    Stage 4: Proficient

    • Able to solve problems intuitively.
    • Continuously adjusts their ways and approaches.
    • Perceives deviations from the normal pattern.
    • Gives suggestions and guidance to others based upon their knowledge and experiences.

    Stage 5: Expert

    • Understands the whole picture intuitively with a deep and tacit comprehension.
    • Creates the guidelines, plans and rules for others.
    • Continuously self-tunes and self-learns.
    • Knows how to handle problems that have never happened before based on their knowledge.

    As the stages show, experts don’t need to be child prodigies or intellectual giants. In fact, ordinary people can become experts, provided they are willing to invest the necessary time and effort.

    The Dreyfus model of skill acquisition not only shows how true experts are made – but also reveals what’s missing from fake experts. Let’s take a look at these people now.

    Don’t Be Fooled by ‘Fake Experts’

    Many people who claim they are experts are actually just at stage 2 or stage 3 of the Dreyfus model.

    These people have gained some knowledge and experiences, but they have not embraced the continuous learning and self-tuning process that real experts have. Because of this, when these ‘fake experts’ encounter problems that they’ve never seen before, they fall back on the same approaches and methods that they’ve been taught.

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    However, when it comes to these challenging cases, traditional methods may not work, and so-called experts will be unable to come up with original resolutions. (Unlike genuine experts who have reached stage 5.)

    You now understand what makes a true expert. Read on to find out how to become one.

    The Journey to Become a True Expert

    To become a genuine expert, you must start as a learner and move naturally through each stage. There are several things to pay attention to when you experience each of the stages, and here’s the guide to help you get through each stage efficiently.

    From Novice to Advanced Beginner: Log Your Experiences and Knowledge

    Your step from moving from novice to advanced beginner should involve the development of a personal library of experience. A logbook of experience and knowledge learned should be completed to show your progression. Ask for feedback from your tutor/instructor, and add this information into your logbook. Finally, log your reflections for actions you’ve taken.

    Let’s say that you want to learn how to play guitar, as a budding guitarist, at this stage you’ll be learning more and more chords, scales and techniques. Be sure to note down as much as possible in your logbook, so that you can easily come back to what you’ve learned.

    From Advanced Beginner to Competent: Grab Every Opportunity to Practice Knowledge

    Learning is by participation and interaction with others. Normally, this takes place through the exchange of ideas and opinions. As you move from advanced beginner to becoming competent, you’ll evolve from the acquisition of knowledge to participating in learning. You’re likely to find yourself starting to see beyond the normal situations and beginning to suggest ways to do things based on what you’ve learned.

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    In the guitarist world, this is the stage where you’ll find yourself practicing more – and even starting to experiment with your playing.

    From Competent to Proficient: Reflect, Reflect, Reflect

    This stage will take you the longest because it’s rooted in continuous exposure to different cases and reflections. You’ll learn to look at things from different angles, and suggest different approaches based on what you’ve learned. With continuous reflections and experiences in guiding others to perform, you’ll deepen your knowledge and skills.

    This is the stage where your guitar playing is good enough that you could start to help others to learn and improve.

    From Proficient to Expert: Continuous Learning and Tuning

    A true expert doesn’t stop learning. They continue to look for new methods and approaches for different cases. They also reflect on what they can do better, and keep a close eye on the ever-changing information world. If you’ve reached this stage, but stop learning and reflecting, you’ll eventually fall back to previous stages.

    At this point in time, you’re a genuinely expert guitarist. You’ll be good enough to perform professionally – or to be a top guitar tutor.

    True Experts Don’t Possess Knowledge, They Explore and Share Knowledge

    Due to the impact of the internet, knowledge is no longer exclusively in the hands of qualified experts. However, just because we can now Google information at the tap of a key, this doesn’t mean that we’re all now experts. Genuine experts still need to go through the five stages of skill acquisition.

    Now you know what you need to do to become an expert in your field. Follow the five stages, and work your way up to becoming a true expert.

    Reference

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    Leon Ho

    Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on June 26, 2019

    How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    How to Create Your Road Map to Success (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    Everyone has their own definition of what success means to them. Well, at least we all should by the very fact that no two individuals are created 100% alike.

    Our road map to success should be different to the person standing next to us. But we can get caught in the dangerous trap that someone else’s ideas of success should also be ours. Be careful.

    Regardless of whether or not we’re talking about your working career, business or personal life, it is truly hard to resist the contagious excitement surrounding those fantastic dreams and goals you allow yourself to explore.

    The ‘come-down’ after attending a euphoric state-inducing personal development seminar can often result in you feeling the slump of post-seminar blues. Worse still, your everyday circumstances don’t accommodate the changes you swore to make that weekend. Nothing changes.

    Get ready to kiss goodbye the post-seminar blues and skip to each destination on your roadmap to your successes. By repeating over and over these simple steps, the quality of your life will improve.

    You will want to use these steps as standard strategies to carry you toward further success in whatever shape or form you choose.

    1. Define What Success Means to You

    Is it just having enough money or more money than you might ever need that allows you to feel and judge yourself a success? Is it about having a beautiful house worth more than $2,000,000 on the upper east side of Manhattan?

    Is it about having a loving partner who supports you in your endeavors? Do you equally support each other?

    Is it through the tertiary education roadmap that you only feel valid you can make a meaningful and successful contribution to help the world economy turn? Is that your definition of success or is it someone else’s? Maybe your mom’s or your dad’s?

    When her daughter Christina found her on the floor of her office, in a pool of blood having hit her head and breaking her cheekbone as she fell, CEO of Thrive Global and celebrated author of Thrive, Ariana Huffington had a wake-up call in more ways than one.[1]

    The exhaustion and overwhelming stress which had led to her fainting drove Huffington to radically introduce new work ethics, values and rules at the editorial.

    Ten years on from her accident, Huffington still leads the conversational charge amongst global leaders to change the badge of honor that successful people need to work 24/7, and give everything of themselves and more, even it means compromising their health.

    As opposed to letting power and money be the two measurements of success, she explains wisdom, well-being, wonder and giving will give you greater success by nurturing your psychological well-being.

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    We can’t argue with Huffington that without that, we are proverbially dead in the water.

    Warren Buffet stated the way he defines success nowadays has nothing to do with money:

    “I measure success by how many people love me”.

    You can’t but fall in love with the wisdom and nobility these words seem to reflect, but keeping it as your only definition of success is probably dangerous. Lacking today’s wisdom at 20 years of age, would Buffet have had the same definition of success?

    Think about where you are on your journey. You are likely to have different goals and different measures of success as you navigate your roadmap. Huffington and Buffet explain non-tangible ideas of success are crucial for our overall success.

    Let’s also not forget though that through tenacity, persistence and many other success habits, these business leaders also rate extremely high on the power and money metrics. However, that’s not all there is to it.

    If you are not sure how you would answer if someone asked you what your definition of success is, here are some clues to get you thinking and feeling.

    As your head hits the pillow and before you close your eyes, what’s most important is that you can internalize that you have chosen your definition of success and you can full responsibility and accountability for deciding upon it.

    2. Review Your Progress and Satisfaction in Life

    Review the main areas of your life. Not just those where you feel you need to make changes. Review all of them:

    • Your career vocation or business life;
    • Your relationships – your intimate or life partner, family and friends;
    • Money health and financial management strategies;
    • Commitment to your faith or religion and spiritual personal development;
    • Your physical and mental health;

    What leisure or recreational activities you pursue for fun to energize your spirit and enrich your soul.

    Do you have ideas of what success looks like for you in each of these areas?

    Neglecting to look at even one area is like trying to restore function to a beautifully crafted Swiss watch, whilst failing to attend to a rusty-looking cog in the tiny internal workings that needs attention. Turn one cog, the others all turn. Ignore a damaged one, the system malfunctions.

    For each area, give yourself a rating out of ten – one signifies the least satisfaction and ten signifies the most – and ask yourself the following questions to help you start identifying what’s important to you:

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    • How satisfied or content with this area of my life am I presently?
    • Where would I like to live this current level of contentment to?
    • What would that new level of satisfaction look like, feel like?
    • How important is this area compared with the other areas of my life?

    Regardless of what areas you recognize need to be your core focus, consider making personal development and improvements to your physical and mental health, and well-being a constant feature of your action plan.

    You will need to continually recognize obstacles you’ll face from your outside world, as well as those internal psychological battles that will arise from within.

    Without your mental and physical health intact, it’s unlikely the rest of the ‘cogs’ are going to turn properly.

    3. Get to Know Your Values and Priorities

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking goal setting can be done in one sitting. You want to make sure the pursuits you put down on paper aren’t fly-by-night moments of excitement that ebb and flow with the rise and fall of tidal trends.

    Become better at identifying your priorities by exploring how you feel about each of your life areas. Think about the ratings of satisfaction you might have denoted for each. And now write down what you want to be, do and have.

    Put aside your initial literary ramblings and revisit them in a couple of weeks or one month. Without looking at your initial thoughts, do the process again and see what consistencies show up. What keeps coming up as feeling important? Around what ideas is there the same yearning or emotional pull?

    If you’re unsure about what you feel you wish to head towards, be in allowance of this. Don’t be jumping to quickly fill the void. The desperation is likely to have you catching the tail of the last exciting concept in fear of missing out, or trying to fill the void of excitement you yearn for.

    Increase your practice of pausing and asking yourself:

    Why does this resonate with me? Could this be a distraction which complicates the route I have mapped out? Am I becoming that person who proverbially chases two rabbits and catches none?

    In his book The Heart of Love, Dr. John Demartini explains how becoming strongly aware of your values and priorities helps you understand why you are and where you are in your life at any given moment.

    If you don’t know what you feel you stand for, look at where you direct your time, energy and attention. Look at your behavior and work backward.

    You might think making money and creating financial wealth is high on your radar. However, if you spend more than you earn and allocate money to depreciating objects as opposed to appreciating assets, your behavior is inconsistent with those typical of someone who is financially astute.

    Look back to your areas of life and ask yourself if the goals you have set are in alignment with your values. Look at your daily behaviors and ask yourself if the way you operate satisfies steps which take you further toward those goals.

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    If not, all is not lost. You’ve simply got some harsh truths and reality checks to face before you can go any further on your roadmap to success.

    4. Make Room Deliberately to Work with a Coach

    You have to come to terms with the fact that you’re likely to be swimming against the tide.

    Once you make clear unwavering decisions about what goals you’re aiming for, prepare to be un-liked, unpopular, criticized and potentially ostracized. There’s a high possibility you’ll lose the friendship and support of some however you will gain new friends and the support of others.

    Regardless of what area/s of life your goals pertain to, make room to work with a coach. Choose wisely who that person will be to encourage and walk beside you.

    Whether it be a certified coach, a family friend/mentor or qualified therapist, find someone who knows how to work with the specific issues and challenges that lay ahead without any agenda other than your success.

    Having that impartial guide can be an invaluable constant. This helps keeps you on the straight and narrow even if other areas of your life aren’t going swimmingly.

    5. Get Highly Familiar with Your Habits and Behaviors

    Despite the scientific evidence in support of it, we’re not recommending you need to start getting up at 5:00 am and exercising for an hour before you even think about starting your day.

    You should start asking yourself these questions far more frequently:

    • How well do you know your habits and routine ways of operating?
    • Do you know what choices and patterned behaviors help or hinder you?

    You know what you want to work on. Greater clarity on your values has enabled you to discern which priorities are high on your list and which ones are low. It’s now time to reinforce and reward the habits that carry you forward on your roadmap to success, and adjust those habits which delay or divert you staying on course.

    Remember though that part of the joy of the human experience is to be fallible, so don’t suddenly shelve all those character-building ‘vices’. Your flaws are a necessary part of your unique success jigsaw puzzle; they are the inspiring reasons you’re going on this journey in the first place.

    Demartini and New York Times journalist and author Charles Duhigg both explain in their books how recognizing your unhelpful behavioral patterns needs to take place first. You identify the emotional and psychological rewards which rule over whether you sustain, break or make a habit.

    When you know the rewards that light you up like a Christmas tree, you link them to new or modified habits that support values you want to make a higher priority.

    Say you love eating out. You love artisan cuisine and get giddy at watching the episode of Heston Blumenthal create chocolate water in his food chemistry laboratory. As much as you say you want to increase your investment in appreciating assets, your spending habits speak otherwise.

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    So, you might start looking for discount opportunities on your higher-end dining. The dishes may not rival Heston’s masterpieces, but your taste buds still enjoy a culinary roller coaster AND you also now to get feel-good allocating the discounted amount to a saving’s program.

    Your tummy is singing as is your bank account. The whole experience goes well beyond short-term gratification and satisfies several values and goals.

    Tweaking habits and forming new ones isn’t hard; it’s just a matter of finding a happy marriage. Take time to find it. There will always be ways.

    6. Celebrate the Wins and Monitor Your Progress Along the Way

    You must become good at deliberately rewarding yourself when you make changes that take you further along your roadmap to success.

    Professor of cognitive neuroscience Dr. Tali Sharot explains how the brain responds and adapts far better to rewards than punishment when it comes to learning behavior and creating new habits.[2]

    When we apply punishment, we reinforce the traumatic memory as being more important than the actual lesson we might have been meant to learn in the first place.

    When we gamify rewards on our success journey, we inject fun and humor. We also reduce the stress that often comes with learning new things, habits and adjusting to new ways of being, doing and having.

    Final Thoughts

    If you hit a progress plateau at any point, you might need to allow yourself to plateau and switch your attention to another priority.

    The switch may allow you to think more freely and clearly about how to move past your roadblock. Or it might simply be a good time to stop and smell the roses.

    Your muscles grow stronger in their resting phase after a workout. Animals hunt profusely to build up their energy stores before going into hibernation.

    Remember that continually forging ahead is not a natural rhythm. Repeat the cycle of rest, recovery and rallying forward then…start again.

    More About Success

    Featured photo credit: Tabea Damm via unsplash.com

    Reference

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