I hung up the phone and turned to my wife. Voice wavering, I gave her the short version of what the doctor had just explained.
The tests were back and he wanted us both to come in immediately to discuss the results. He felt it was best if we all spoke in person. All the way there I reviewed the questions I would ask. “How would my life change?, How serious was it, what options did I have”. I trusted my doctor but I wanted to make sure that I had every angle covered.
After settling into the faux leather chairs across from the doctor, I nodded to him silently showing I was ready for the news.
Leaning forward, he looks at my wife then me and says…
“I am not an expert. Really no one is. I just am very passionate about this topic. So I hope you feel comfortable with my opinion on this matter”
Tell me, does that answer fill you with confidence?
Hell no. We need experts.
Our way of life depends on people who have dedicated their lives to being the absolute best at what they do.
Doctors, Dentists, Coaches, Attorneys, Teachers, and thousands of other people who enter our day-to-day lives.
Note: don’t worry I’m not dying…just wanted to make the point…
We Need Experts
But for some darn reason…I continue to hear the same nonsensical refrain when I hang out on Twitter for more than 10 minutes.
It goes like this…
“I’m not an expert. In fact, no one is. If someone says they are an expert – they are a fool.” (Nevermind the fact that the person’s point of view implies that they have enough expertise to tell the difference!)
Sounds great. Modest even. But it’s pure horse crap and it’s letting legions of potential “change makers” off the hook. Even worse, people who believe this kumbaya nonsense will find it even harder to get noticed, spread their message and make a difference.
This has to stop.
Oprah Didn’t Want Dr. Phil’s Opinion
Years ago, Oprah said something that got herself into hot water during a show about Mad Cow’s disease. For some reason, highlighting the risks of eating meat upset some Texas cattle ranchers. The ranchers promptly sued Oprah and the circus began. These folks had some cash so the lawsuit wasn’t frivolous and could have cost Oprah millions (and restricted her show’s topics).
While preparing for the jury trial, Oprah’s team called on a popular jury consultant named Dr. Phil McGraw. Back then he was an “expert” at reading people, specifically jurors. During the trial, Oprah was impressed with Dr. Phil’s blunt honesty about the jurors AND her own attitude toward the trial. So impressed, in fact, that Oprah invited him on her show.
The rest is, as they say, history.
Now what if Dr. Phil prefaced his advice with “Now Oprah, jury selection is a complicated and ever evolving discipline. I’m not an expert but I’ll give it my best shot”. What would have happened? Yep, Oprah would have bounced him quicker than a red dodge ball.
People need experts.
They have value because they have done the research, legwork, and training that we can’t do on our own. Not only that, we rely on experts to see further down the road than we can. We cherish their insight and lean on their wisdom. Having an expert means that you can shortcut the process and achieve your goals quicker.
Frankly, I wish I had the money to hire more of them.
I’m not alone.
Why Experts Deserve to Get Rich
I just finished a very satisfying weekend of watching college football. While watching, my dad and I kept up a steady diatribe about defense schemes, the Spread Offense, Mobile vs. Pocket Quarterbacks, and so on. From the outside, we probably sounded like we knew what we were talking about.
So what chances do I have of becoming a walk-in Offensive Coordinator for the Ohio State Buckeyes? Zero.
I have great opinions, even semi-educated ones. But Coach Tressel wants someone who is willing to put their opinions to the test. He wants an expert.
Experts get rich because their point of view and expertise saves time and makes money. Experts also build a brand and business around their ability. Armchair quarterbacks only show up for 4 hours on the weekend.
Experts want attention. Experts want the ball. They know their “craft” down cold and they know their insights moves the needle.
We reward these folks with cash and attention.
What Are You Afraid Of?
I have friends that get frothy at the mouth when they are “accused of being an expert”. I suspect this happens for a few reasons:
The Snob Factor: It just sounds arrogant to describe yourself as an expert. Even if you have the goods it just seems more neighborly to downplay your expertise.
Fear: These days, there are a fair number of people love disparaging experts. It’s far safer to play nice and not draw a target on your back. Sad.
Proof: The person who assumes the expert mantle has to “put up or shut up”. You can’t claim you’re a blogging expert if your own blog is a ghost town. People tend to shy away from proving their expertise. This means it’s easier to just dodge the title.
There’s A Better Way
I have an easy way to sidestep this whole debate.
Just be the expert. Earn your title and ignore the mediocre middle that are too afraid to “ask for the ball”.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Get Personal Experience: Jump into your subject with both feet. Read every book you can get your hands on. Experiment, test, and spend whatever it takes to become the best. Focus your time on uncovering the hidden rules, secrets, and best practices at the core of your discipline. Next…
2. Get Results: Put your knowledge into practice. Start a blog and publish your results. Back up your talk with solid and undeniable proof. The “haters” that snipe at you will fade away when confronted with real data, results, and success
3. Teach: Start teaching. Nothing establishes your bona-fides quicker than helping others succeed. By the way, you can’t pull this off until you admit that you are an expert. Afterall, no one wants to learn from someone who isn’t confident in their own expertise!
Do You Have to Be An Expert?
Listen, if you are just loitering in your niche then you don’t need to be an expert. If your blog is just a hobby, then don’t sweat the expert title. If you don’t have to feed your family with what you know, then ignore this post.
If you want anyone to pay you for what you know then Be the Expert.
This is a very controversial topic so tell me what you think. Comment below and let me know where you stand in the expert debate. Are you afraid of being called an expert? Talk to me and I’ll talk right back.
(image credit: alancleaver_2000)