How to Be an Expert

At this stage in my training and career, I still have the “impostor syndrome” at times; in certain situations, I definitely feel like I’m an impostor, that I don’t know as much as I really do, and that I’m incompetent. Some days I wonder, will I ever be considered an “expert” in a particular area, whatever being an expert means. These insecurities aside, I know that there are some secrets to excelling at whatever it is that you do in life.

The first is practice, or more specifically, deliberate practice. Studies (e.g., Ericsson, et al., 1993) have shown that it is not necessarily the length of time one spends engaged in the work/activity/sport/etc, but the intentional efforts to get better (e.g., asking for feedback, reviewing tapes, repeatedly doing the same or similar task, etc). No wonder my high school coach constantly yelled at us, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” Asking for feedback and trying to learn what you can do better isn’t easy, as often times criticisms doesn’t do a lot for our self-esteems. I have definitely learned over the years, however, that asking what I could do differently or better has made me a better writer, clinician, and overall person in general.

This leads to my second point: having a growth-mindset, a concept that was developed by Carol Dweck and her colleagues. First, lets talk about the opposite: fixed-mindset. Individuals who have a fixed mindset believe that their intelligence is changeable (i.e., fixed) and as such, may value looking intelligent over trying to learn. Those who have a fixed mindset may give up on difficult tasks or opportunities because they fear looking stupid or inept (or insert any other perceived negative characteristic). This mindset leaves people stuck because they never take any risks or put themselves in situations in which they can learn more.

On the other hand, having a growth-mindset means that a person believes that they can learn and get better over time. Individuals who take this approach are more likely to take risks because they don’t fear failure or have negative thoughts about what failure means. This means that people with a growth-mindset are more likely to engage in deliberate practice and intentional efforts to get better (i.e, identifying areas of growth and working hard to improve).

So bottom line: to be an expert, you have to be willing to work hard, be willing to learn, be willing to receive feedback, and practice, practice, practice. 

Any ideas on how we can foster a growth-mindset in ourselves and in others? What are some things that get in the way of getting into a growth-mindset?


One response to “How to Be an Expert

  1. Pingback: Choosing to Be Uncomfortable | Live, Lift, Eat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s