Do you think of yourself as an expert?
The dictionary defines expert as: “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.”
Most of us don’t view ourselves as experts. Unless we’ve performed in Carnegie Hall, won an Olympic medal, or reached the highest pinnacle of success in our chosen field or avocation, we don’t feel comfortable accepting the designation of expert.
I certainly resisted seeing myself as an expert when I started my business helping others. I went into it kicking and screaming. Fortunately my friend and mentor Jason Gracia told me to put a sock in it (nicely). He was able to see in me what I couldn’t see in myself.
I have several clients I coach around creating expert web sites who balk at referring to themselves that way. “I’m not an expert. I may know a few things, but I’m certainly not an expert.” Au contraire.
Here’s what you must understand if you want to create a passionate business or career — or even a passionate volunteer endeavor . . .
If you have a skill, an interest, or passion for something that can serve or enlighten or entertain other people — then you are expert enough.
You are expert enough to offer people something they want or need — a solution or skill-set. And that my friends is quite valuable, both emotionally and financially.
Emotionally you will be flat-out happy because you are helping people by doing something you actually enjoy and are good at. This is supported by research and data on happiness (check out the book The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky). Serving others and doing activities that deeply engage you fosters happiness and well-being.
Financially — well, you might just make some money doing what you love while dancing around deliriously happy. What a concept, huh?
And even if you aren’t 100% proficient with 40 years of experience under your belt with your skill or interest, you have enough knowledge to share with those who know nothing at all about your area of expertise. Whatever you might be lacking, you can learn along the way. Or you can find other experts to help you out. You just need to be a few steps ahead of those seeking your help.
As long as you are serving and providing solutions, you will become a go-to resource for people. And for them, you are expert enough if you are providing valuable information or service for their money or time. As you grow with your business or work, you will learn more and continue to provide advanced levels of service, becoming even more of an expert.
Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. ~Denis Waitley
If you’ve made it to adulthood, you have buckets of knowledge and skills about many things. In fact, you might truly be a professional or authority or highly skilled at several things. And each of those skills has a subset of other skills that are useful, valuable, and maybe even marketable.
If you really sat down and thought about it, you’d see that you know a whole lot about a lot of things many other people don’t know squat about. Look, from my perspective, if you know how to change the oil in your car, you’re a car expert. Because I can’t even get the hood of my car open. Make sense?
The problem for most of us is we take our skills and abilities for granted. We are so humble and self-effacing, which are nice qualities in some scenarios, but they don’t get you too far in sharing your skills with the world.
We also assume no one else would be interested in what we know or find it remotely useful. But you’d be surprised. There are people out there needing exactly what you have to offer. And you’d be amazed at how absolutely grateful and thrilled they are to find someone who is reliable, enthusiastic, professional, and willing to share.
So right about now you might be thinking, “Ok, so I might have a useful thing or two up my sleeve, but how do I find those grateful people who are interested in what I can do or offer?” Very good question.
The answer depends a lot on the thing or things you are an expert at. And it depends on whether or not you wish to build a career, make a little extra money, or simply volunteer your time and abilities. Let’s take a look at a few ideas.
If you want to build a career or make some side cash
There are several ways you can utilize your expertise (even while you are fully employed doing something else) to start building a career or making a bit of extra money on the side. Or transition from one to the other.
Building a blog or online expert site
I’ve written before about using a blog as a platform for your life passion, and how it’s a great way to share your expertise with a wide audience. It takes time to grow a loyal following on a blog, but over time, you can bring in extra income with it. You might check out Corbett Barr’s great program, Start A Blog That Matters, to learn more about creating a site that serves the world.
An “expert site” goes beyond a blog and serves as a platform for building a sustainable business around your expertise. An expert site requires an understanding of branding, marketing, specific site design strategies, and messaging.
This site (BarrieDavenport.com) is an expert site. The focus is specifically on my work of helping people find and live their life passions. I provide specific goods and services to help people do that. My other site, Live Bold and Bloom, is more of a blog. It is a useful platform for sharing many of the personal development strategies I find useful, but I don’t position myself as an expert in any one particular area. You can read more here about how I built this expert site and the difference between the two sites.
Freelancing is another great way to enjoy your passion, experiment with it, and have a lot of flexibility. You can work from home, even if you have another job, without needing to start an actual business. In most states, you can operate under your own name without registering as a business. This makes it possible to start as a freelancer right away with few hassles and expenses.
You can promote yourself through a blog or web site, on social media, through forums and comments on sites related to your expertise, or by directly contacting people or business who might need your services.
You can also find work through sites like Elance, Guru, VWorker, and Craigslist. Just take a look at those sites to see what people and businesses are seeking in the way of freelancers. You might be surprised to see a demand for exactly what you have to offer.
A consultant can help a business or individual identify problems, strategize solutions, and help grow a business or achieve certain goals. Unlike freelancers, consultants generally work in a advisory capacity without accountability for the results.
Consultants are often seasoned professionals whose reputation and experience make them valuable assets. But this isn’t always the case. For example, many young computer experts offer highly valuable consulting services to organizations and professionals who need direction and advice.
Consultants typically have several clients at a time. They focus more on long-term relationships than any specific project, although there are big and small projects in the course of a consulting relationship. The general idea here is that the consultant is an available, go-to resource the client can call on regularly.
Coaching is a wonderful way to share your passion and skills by helping others reach their fullest potential. You can be a coach for a variety of disciplines including business coaching, health and wellness coaching, sales coaching, writer’s coaching, etc. (I’m a life passion coach).
There are many people who hang a coaching shingle on their door and call themselves a coach. Since I’m a certified coach with an accredited coaching institution, I think it’s important to know what’s involved in being a coach and what coaching really is.
The International Coaches Federation defines it this way:
The ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching honors the client as the expert in his/her life and work and believes that every client is creative, resourceful, and whole.
A coach should:
- Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve;
- Encourage client self-discovery;
- Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies; and
- Hold the client responsible and accountable.
Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Ultimately, coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.
Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.
If you want to share and enjoy your passion through coaching, I strongly recommend you enroll in a certification program with an accredited training institution. You can find accredited schools through the International Coaches Federation here.
Being a certified coach certainly adds to your credibility. But more importantly, you learn a skill set that allows you to create a real partnership with your clients while doing something you love.
If you want to volunteer your expertise
You may not need or want to make money or make a living with your expert skills, but maybe it’s important to you to express them and share them with the world. In fact, many people find their ultimate passion through a volunteer endeavor.
I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. ~Albert Schweitzer
You’ve heard people say they love their work so much they would do it for free? Well, volunteering takes this idea and turns it around. You love what you are doing for free so much that you’d be willing to get paid for it. Real career opportunities seem to find a way to enthusiastic, passionate volunteers.
When you volunteer, giving freely of your time and energy, you not only help others, but also you increase your self-esteem and sense of purpose in life. You see directly how you are making a difference in the world while doing something you enjoy.
Through volunteering you can broaden your network of like-minded people, enhance your expert skills, and open doors to future job or business opportunities that you might not have previously considered.
There are many volunteer matching organizations such as Volunteer Match, Smart Volunteer, and Catchafire. There are government sponsored volunteer organizations like Americorps and PeaceCorps, as well as international opportunities like United Nations Volunteers and Global Volunteer Network.
Of course you don’t have to serve through an organization or in some organized endeavor. You can volunteer doing what you love and sharing what you know in your own community, in your neighborhood, and with your friends and family. Life passion can be found even in the most common corners of our lives.
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If you want to discover The Simple Step-by-Step Formula That Finally Reveals Your True Passion, I invite you to join my 4-week interactive course, The Path to Passion, beginning April 6. Sign up on the wait listnow to receive an early bird discount during registration. (Signing up for the wait list does not obligate you to register.)