I hear this a lot, especially from relatively new consultants, and especially from women.
“There are people who know a lot more than I do.”
“There are people who’ve done this kind of project many more times than I have.”
“There are people who have been doing this work for decades longer than I have.”
Of course, all of those statements are likely true, and will be forever. So what?
If you are getting hung up on statements like these, you are really focusing on just the first way that people become known as experts. There are two other equally compelling ways to reach the same status.
1. The Expert with Real World Experience
This is the been-there, done-that expert or “hands dirty” or “eye witness” expert. It’s the kind of expert that most people are thinking of when they pooh-pooh their own expertise.
2. The Reporting Expert
This is the kind of expertise you gain by constantly listening, observing, and analyzing. If you are good at soaking up all kinds of information and squeezing it back out in more useful forms, or are great at crowd sourcing, curating, and convening, you are likely this kind of expert.
3. The Expert with Insightful Perspectives
This expert focuses more on the future than on the past. They talk about “what ifs” and “why nots.” They are often more visionary or inspirational that other types of experts.
Is one better than another? That totally depends on what you are doing, and who you are doing it with. Performing brain surgery, yes, we want the real world expert. Teaching others about how to solve problems that current brain surgeons are having? I’d go with one of the other two.
In my own journey, I started out as the real world expert. As I built my consulting and training practice, I focused more on being a “reporting” expert. Now, as I build my coaching/mentoring practice, I’m working more on the “insightful perspectives.”
What kind of expert are you? Did you start as one kind and transition into another? I’d love to hear your path in the comments.