Too many people walk around proclaiming themselves to be experts on any number of topics.
Tim Ferriss would say he is an expert in living well (which he addresses through productivity, effectiveness, boldness and choice). Brené Brown is an expert in vulnerability, Gretchen Rubin in happiness, and Charles Duhigg is an expert in the matter of habits (just to name a few).
I’ve followed all four of these people, and I can vouch for the fact that they do have expertise in these fields:
I have my email and professional voicemail responders to reduce wasted time thanks to Tim. This is a must-do for busy women who want to set boundaries for work-life balance.
Brené has helped me reinforce and appreciate acting despite fear and her book Dare To Lead is a go-to recommendation for my Women in Leadership training attendees.
Gretchen’s book The Happiness Project was the catalyst that led me to re-evaluate my life and start Life in Focus.
Charles’s Book The Power of Habits has shifted how I work with people who have food and other addictions!
Despite their expertise, however, not a single one of them can tell me what I need to be happier, more successful, or more fulfilled. They’re not experts in me, they’re experts in a specific field or topic.
Only I know what skills or knowledge will work for me and how to apply it so it is RIGHT FOR ME.
I’m no expert!
In the world of coaching and therapy, professionals tend to talk about how they are the expert in YOU. Well, I’m here to tell you that I am no expert when it comes to the subject of you; and I am both a psychotherapist and coach.
I am an expert in self-awareness, insight, confidence, leadership, change, anxiety, and stress management (I have long since exceeded the 10,000 hour mark when it comes to practicing these skills).
I have specialized knowledge about human psychology and what makes you tick. I can look at a behavior pattern in your life, and with the right kind of questions I can tell you what is holding you back or what is motivating you, YET, I am no expert in you.
Stop thinking someone else holds the answers to your problems, when in truth only you know what you need. Only you have the answers to these questions :
What do I need to feel more fulfilled?
What should I do next with my career?
How can I be happier/healthier/ better?
Are my choices right for me?
At this point, you may be wondering why the hell you can’t easily answer these questions for yourself if, in fact, you are truly an expert.
That my friend is simple, it’s a matter of self-awareness and making time for yourself.
You probably don’t know exactly what questions you need to be asking, how to ask them, or even how to interpret the answers or signals that you are giving yourself. These are all things you can learn to do.
The coaches and therapists in your life may not be experts in you, but we are experts in helping you find the right questions and making sense of your answers. We are experts in motivation, and getting you to face and work through your roadblocks. We are accountability partners.
I wrote this article a few years ago on the difference between coaching, consulting, and therapy (it’s a worthy read). The gist of it all is that a coach is like a Sherpa. A Sherpa helps you get from point A to point B using the safest, most direct, and appropriate route for you. They don’t carry you on their back, they can’t magically teleport you to your chosen destination, but they do make sure you get where you want to go, and that you are clear about the things you want to see, experience, and discover on that journey.
I’m not an expert, are you?
I write this post not to discourage you from checking-in with the so-called experts out there (including yours truly), but rather to remind you that you are more powerful, knowledgeable, and resourceful than you imagine.
You might need some help along the way to
Identify a problem: It might have taken me years to realize that I was not fulfilled in the manner I wanted to had I not read Gretchen’s book.
Map out a solution: my most valuable contribution to my clients is giving them a framework to discover what they need, what right for them looks like, and overcome the roadblocks standing in their way.
Identify a process: I guarantee Tim and Charles’ books, as well as the work I did with my own coach, have helped me become more effective, successful, and impactful as a professional woman.
Move forward with a plan: That’s what most coaches do, it’s what I get out of my fitness coaches, and it’s what I seek when I work with strategy coaches in specific fields.
But at the end of the day, no one holds the answers that you seek… except for you.
So don’t passively rely on someone else’s system, journey, or advice. Use their expertise, yes, but use it to unlock the answers within yourself. Never let someone else tell you they know exactly what is right for you… because they don’t and they can’t.
I say all of this, but really, who am I to tell you what you should do… after all, I’m no expert!