How To Become An Expert To Build Confidence & Enjoy Work

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business woman expert developing expertise

Being an expert at something has a nice ring to it. More importantly, such credibility could contribute to your confidence and comfort with yourself and others.

Feeling that capable can also be a catalyst for action and enjoyment, as you make the progress you want in your personal and professional life. Yet, all these satisfying generalities don’t mean much.

That is, unless you can answer the useful question of what appeals enough to you to invest the time and energy in becoming an expert.

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You may already be an expert and not even know it.

Let’s start with some encouraging news. You may already be expert (or expert enough) in a range of activities and processes for which you don’t give yourself adequate credit.

The following examples are bridges to building your expertise further in some immediately accessible areas. As you consider them, identify the ones you enjoy expressing now.

Also, think about their contributions and transferability to work and relationships. While imagining applications in your life for any of them, stay open for other examples that come to mind.

Steps toward become an expert to build confidence and expertise and enjoy your work.

  • Use people skills such as listening, encouraging others, communicating openly, considering others’ needs, accommodating and appreciating different personalities (within reason), and giving productive feedback.
  • Develop, organize, and strengthen projects, resources, and goals.
  • Enhance professional and personal qualities and behaviors, including stress management, honesty with yourself and others, emotional balance in challenging situations, intuition, and common sense.

These examples contribute to your interpersonal relationships, whether at work or with friends and family. I call them the lubrication for taking effective action and meeting important goals in a variety of situations, from big bucks deals to family issues.

They are process skills, the expertise related to how you can do something well.

An example of professional qualities and behavior emerges from comedian and actor Steve Martin’s comments on the expertise and talents of Carl Reiner with whom he collaborated on films.

He lauded Reiner’s ability to teach him, often by example, how to behave on a movie set, as well as how to direct and write. Yet, it was not just the wide range of expertise that infused his comedy, acting, and direction. Above all, Martin honored the decency that permeated Reiner’s gifts and expertise.

How can you become an expert in specific subjects?

Maybe you’re questioning others' value and appreciation of the "soft skills" mentioned above. Different from content, subject, or "hard skills," which are typically the focus of education and training, they may not seem as important.

Yet in today’s world of accelerating challenges and change, their value is increasingly acknowledged. They can be crucial for satisfaction, effectiveness, and success, if not survival.

What will give you both enjoyment and worthwhile outcomes is your ability and willingness to integrate soft skills with hard skills and knowledge, whether in personal or work life.

Though you may have already explored or developed information about what you’d like to be expert in, the following suggestions can help you explore further.

Start now by listing about three subjects that already appeal to you.

Could they be related to health, sports, fashion, or technology? For greater clarity, ask yourself what aspect of your top selection engages you most.

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Or, perhaps you’re not sure of a topic or drawing a blank.

These three questions will bring up some inspiring or encouraging ideas for you:

  • What subjects or issues have you always been curious about?
  • What problems are so important to you that you’d like to try to solve?
  • What do you regularly look forward to learning about or experiencing?

What are next steps to becoming an expert?

The previous sections dealt with the "how" of soft skills and the "what" of topics for expertise.

What preliminary focus for exploration, learning, and practice have you chosen? Describe that as well as you can now to continue your journey to becoming an expert.

Now, ask yourself why you want to become an expert in a particular process, area, or subject. To test that, think about how your choice reflects your one or two top values.

Also be alert to whether your choice is based on just comfort with convention, what you know about already, or guidance from others.

If any of these, now is the time to free yourself of such should or easier dos in favor of what you truly want to try or do. The latter will strengthen your motivation and sustain your commitment.

But if you feel hesitant about starting or continuing with an essentially new choice for becoming an expert, break a simple learning plan into small steps. Notice the process and progress can be nonlinear and seemingly illogical, as are other aspects of life.

Follow and adapt your plan regularly to ensure momentum. Possibly find a mutual mentor or cheerleader.

  • What incentives and rewards will you give yourself to make productive, manageable progress?
  • How will you show your appreciation to anyone who helps or inspires you?

Despite the hard, yet generally engaging work of developing and deepening your expertise, you’ll confirm you’re on the right path when you continue to look forward to doing it, most of the time.

Although the flow often becomes smoother over time, challenges, loops, and blocks will continue, even when you’ve chosen something that remains engaging and worthwhile.

How can you transcend the dangers of becoming an expert?

Beware that mastery can be misleading, sometimes coming to a dead end of boredom and predictability; it can also be overtaken by new technology and reorganizations.

You can avoid being seduced by such sunk costs, or investments that could seem lost if you let go of something, by routinely renewing, expanding, and deepening expertise you seek.

Offset a sense of an impending void with new or complementary knowledge, experience, and collaborations to strengthen commitment and interest in future possibilities.

The stimulation and enjoyment of your learning process and new or different accomplishments are useful tests. They can show the longevity, value, and meaning of your choice to you, as well as to others.

You can then delight in being the expert you want to be as your pleasure confirms, deepens, and enriches your increasingly confident and effective talents.

Since this article is about becoming an expert, appreciate the process. After all, the word expert shares its derivation with experience and experiment.

Keep that continuing adventure in mind as you keep snooping in a variety of areas, connecting with a range of people, and sharpening your soft and hard skills.

Curiosity and openness are keys to both the sustenance of expertise as well as enjoyment using it.

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Ruth Schimel PhD is a career and life management consultant and author of the Choose Courage series on Amazon. Obtain the bonus first chapter of the upcoming, Happiness and Joy in Work: Preparing for Your Future on her website, where you’ll also find your invitation for a free consultation.