I’ve been thinking a lot about our industry’s obsession with ‘experts.’
Marketers tell us how to sell ourselves as experts.
Gurus give advice as experts.
When we need help, we look for experts.
I totally get it. We want to hire people who know what they’re doing. We want people to hire us because we know what we’re doing.
But I’m beginning to wonder if the term ‘expert’ is losing its meaning. When I hear someone say they’re an expert, I’m a little less likely to believe it than I once was.
I’ve also run into another, even scarier, side effect.
Our focus on expertise is forcing us all to act as if we’re perfect performers in our chosen fields.
We feel like expert marketers must never struggle in their own marketing. Or expert business coaches must never make a really bad call. Or expert systems strategists must never waste their time on the wrong things.
But that’s just not how it goes, is it?
Some doctors smoke. Some counselors break down. Some dentists get cavities. It doesn’t mean they’re bad at what they do – it means they’re human.
I’ve had real moments when I was rushing out the door with my daughter, late for something, and thought, “oh I’m so glad my clients can’t see me right now.” But when I think about it more, I don’t want to hide those moments.
Our constant drum beat of expertise is getting in the way of our crafts, our vocations.
We learn best when we try things and iterate on them. We serve our clients best when we’re willing to say, “this particular situation is new to me, but this is how I plan to tackle it.”
What if instead of saying, “I’m an expert I’m an expert I’m an expert” we could say, “this is my vocation. I’m a craftsman. I’m good at my work, and I’m passionate about it, but there’s always more to learn. Let me tell you about what I’m learning.”
What if our best marketers felt free to tell us about their recent underperforming campaign and the thought process they’re following to troubleshoot? What if I could tell you about systems I’ve built in my own life that didn’t work, and how I’m responding? How much more helpful would that be?
My challenge to myself, and you too, is this – let’s stop looking for ‘the expert.’ Let’s stop flocking to celebrity gurus. Instead, we have the opportunity to find someone who’s passionate, and honest, about their work, and support them in their vocation.