On Being Great

I used the word great in the title on purpose, mostly to get your attention. It really isn’t about being great. First, it is about being good. So often I hear people advising others who want to be experts, gurus, or otherwise at the top of their field, to “fake it until you make it” or to “just do it” and I cringe. To be an expert you actually have to know something. To be a guru you actually need a presentation style; a good presentation style. But, of course, you have to start somewhere.
 
Too many people seem to want to start at the top, to ignore the learning process, to forgo paying the price of doing first. They want to bang together a book, publish it for Kindle or as a PDF and get it out there, to open a website, and suddenly they think they are an expert. But it isn’t like that.
 
Sure, early in the process, you can do a little research on almost any topic and write a basic book about it. That’s good. It gets your name out there. It adds to your cred. Nothing wrong with that. And sure, you can put up a web site and start blogging. In fact that should be one of the first things you do. It builds your online presence. All of that is good but there is one key element that is needed to move ahead as a true expert, even a guru. It’s called substance.
 
Substance is different for different fields. Expert brain surgeons need specific mental knowledge about their subject that is matched to exceptional eye-hand coordination. One can be learned. The other can be practiced. Together they can make a very good surgeon well above the crowd. There is a spark of something else, however, that moves the very good surgeon onwards to being the expert surgeon, a full step above.
 
The same is true for expert writers, coaches, reviewers, editors, teachers, marketers, web designers, and all the other self-employed fields. Expert is a step above the crowd and you get there by taking the path, the journey, of success. It is a journey, not a place, and every step along the way means actually learning, doing, practicing, and repeating, as you tackle more, attain more, achieve more, and become more.
 
You can share with others at any point along the path. There are always those who know less than you who can benefit from your help. There are those who know more than you in their own field who can benefit from your knowledge about process, focus, stress relieve, healthy eating, or whatever else you are offering, even as a beginner. You can share as soon as you think you know enough that you have something to share. You may already be at that point right at the beginning of your experts career. That’s good.
 
If you are a real expert, however, you will know that you can’t possibly know everything about your topic. Otherwise your topic would not be growing. It would be dead, and you may want to consider a different field. Every good, current, topic I can think of is growing, developing and making breakthroughs almost daily. I am confident your topic is in the same flux. That means there is more to learn, more steps to take, more for you to do as you move toward true expertise.
 
It is when you understand this, and apply it to your own growth, that you truly are on the path to becoming a successful expert in your field. Don’t fake it. Learn it. Don’t just do it. Do it right. Don’t worry about great. Think about, work towards, good. Share what you know now but always move forward to what will be found along the path ahead. Keep opening doors. Never give up.
 
On my own path, today I’ll do things a little differently than I did yesterday. Hopefully better.
 

2 Responses to On Being Great

  1. Kathy Henderson-Sturtz October 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Sound advice, Steve. Always good to remember our path’s in this life’s journey, stretch back behind us and we’ll as stretch out ahead

  2. Barry Smith October 2, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Great post Steve. It reminded me of the fact that to assume we have done something great suggests that there is not much room for improvement. To limit ourselves in that way, only caps the potential we have.

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