The recipe for expertise

The recipe for expertise

An academic degree or major accomplishments in a field are seen as the only qualifications to become an expert.

In the current information age, the reality is that each of us has an opportunity to become an expert, regardless of the background we have.

Say you love a particular field and want to grow your career in that field. There are also ways to become an expert in a particular field. Here is how you can begin your journey towards that.

Malcolm Gladwell’s 2008 book Outliers talks about this phenomenon. Gladwell says that “it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field”.

While the details are debatable, there is merit to the underlying principle. First, focus on an area that you are passionate about and dive deep.

Build competency, confidence and credibility over a period of time. Soon, you will start standing out in that field and eventually be one of the experts in that domain.

Needless to say, achieving the status of an expert always leads to acceleration in your career and opens up new avenues for growth.

Building credibility

There are many ways to building your credibility in a particular field. Joining relevant networks and deepening your knowledge of a domain is a good way to begin.

Another time-tested approach is to listen and learn from like-minded professionals or established experts.

Create speaking opportunities. Initially, these opportunities might come from lesser-known platforms, like a college in the vicinity which needs a speaker for their academic seminar.

A youth organisation or local club may also be interested in having you address a group to inspiring younger professionals.

The size of the platform does not matter. Your credibility will rise as you become more proficient in presenting your ideas.

Try penning an article for a trade journal, industry publication or even a mainstream publication.

Despite the torrent of “instant journalism” on social media, the written word still carries plenty of weightage. One other way to go about this is to get quoted in the media in your area of expertise. This may need a few years of persistent brand and credibility building.

As you notch up small gains or victories, be sure to add them to your digital profile.

Start from the bottom

Nobody is born an expert. Each of them started from the bottom and slowly grew more proficient in the field.

The mindset that you need an academic degree or some special accomplishment in the field to become an expert is really a barrier. Let the academic experts have their say.

Given the explosion of knowledge today, there is always scope for more experts to add to the narrative. There is always room for fresh perspectives and informed opinions.

While we look at the current crop of experts with awe and admiration, do remember that they too started with a minimal knowledge and built on that over a period of time.

So if you really care about a field and are yearning to become an expert, the time to start is now!

(The author is the senior vice president, Safe Water Network)