I show concerned parents who want to give their children the best start to life how to better understand their children.

9 Apr 2013

What makes you an expert in your field?

A friend asked me, "What makes you an expert in your field?" It’s a simple question on the surface. One could easily say, "You’re an expert once your gained 10,000 hours of proficiency in the task," as defined by Malcolm Galdwell in his book Outliers. That’s a decent answer. However, I think it’s a little more complicated than that.

In some disciplines, the 10,000-hour rule applies perfectly. Activities like dancing and sports. You have to practise, practise, and practise to become amazing at it. (Look out for my blog on Burn the Floor – It was amazing!)

Now, our chat was more on the creativity side. My personal view is that we are all creative. We don’t need to gain our 10,000 hours. All we need to do is create. Often society represses creativity. People tell us that we are weird or those colors don’t go together. However, that doesn’t matter because it’s part of a process: a means to an end.

Whenever newspaper reporters interview me they always ask, "What advice do I have for writers?" My answer is always the same: I carry around a book in which I can write and whenever ideas pop into my head, I write them down. People always say to me, "You never seem to get writes block." It’s because I don’t let those ideas go to waste.

Don’t throw away your creativity. You may need some special training to become an expert in a design program, a specific discipline or with a specialized tool. However, I believe we are all experts in creativity. It lives within us. Just let it out. Once out, let it grow. Dance more, write more, draw and paint more. Of course, the negative side of this adopting this process is when people ask you to write something spontaneously, on occasion, nothing comes out. I’d imagine comedians are often in similar situations. Members of the public probably often ask comedians to tell them a joke:

"Tell me a joke, now!"

"Ummmm… A Jew and a Rabi walk into a bar... and ummmmm... the Rabi drops some money..."

Of course, I do not hold this against the people who do ask, I thank them for it. It makes for some interesting conversation. It keeps me on my toes and helps me to expand my process.

I have to wonder, does the term expert even help society though? It has the ability to segregate, especially on subjective matters. I find the notion of defining an expert by a predefined set of criteria limiting, because often human beings will judge the title of the person and not the information that the person is presenting them. Look at celebrity sponsorships. When a celebrity is paid (notice paid, they are paid!) to sponsor a product, its sales usually go through the roof. Is the celebrity really an expert in that field? Often the answer is no. In addition, look at Twitter. I saw a Tweet from a celebrity be re-tweeted 52 times. It was mildly interesting, some random comment similar to what I sometimes say. Except when I say things like that, people look at me like I should be in a strait-jacket and I’m craaaazy. Later on, I saw a tweet offering information on college scholarships. Now I want you to have a guess at how many times that bite of information was re-tweeted? Guess… One; it was me!

Now I have purposefully left this article a little unedited and un-concluded, as it’s part of the process. Let’s say the process involves you. What do you think?

I show concerned parents who want to give their children the best start to life
how to better understand their children.
And I show people who are facing difficulties that they are not alone.

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I show concerned parents who want to give their children the best start to life
how to better understand their children.
And I show people who are facing difficulties that they are not alone

2 comments:

  1. As a ballroom dancer, I'm glad to hear Burn the Floor is awesome! It's nice to know the show does dancers proud. It's strange to think what it takes to be called an expert, and I've often pondered what makes someone an expert. I recently blogged about how people can be called an "expert" because of a college degree when they made C's in all their classes, yet those who might know more than them are often passed over for jobs because they are self-taught. It's an interesting discussion.

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  2. Wow, what you said now Colby made such an impact.

    It's such a good way of articulating that.

    I personally don't believe in degrees etc., and you are very right.

    A person with a degree that just scraped through or got a bunch of C's has nothing on the person who is self-taught and does the job everyday.


    Thank you Colby
    Have an awesome day.

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