Sunday, January 22, 2012

1/23/12—Becoming an Expert

Today's Draw: Eight of Pentacles from the Crystal Visions. What are you an expert at? Who decides whether you're an expert or not? And is it possible you're selling yourself short in some area of expertise?

The Eight of Pentacles is about the apprentice...and often the late-in-life apprentice or second-time-around apprentice. Hard work, perseverance and attention to detail are required to master a new skill, so our weaver woman focuses on her work, regardless of what else may call to her. 

I don't feel like writing this blog today. And I don't have to. But for some yet-to-be-revealed-to-me reason, I've made a commitment to doing it. Until I'm done. Whenever that is. In the meantime, this exercise helps me practice my craft and refine my voice. It helps me build an audience. It helps me practice my tarot and intuitive skills. And it delivers a seemingly unlimited supply of encouragement from people like you. :)

This past weekend, my "new Saturday entry" debuted and I got such wonderful feedback. As I said before, I want to make a book full of those and will be using some of the ones I post here to send to publishers in a proposal.

I've been writing professionally for 25 years, but the kind of writing I do here is different from the "Sale! $59.99 Sansabelt Pants!" kind of writing I'm used to. For one thing, I use a lot less exclamation marks. For another, in more than a year of writing these entries, not a one of you has tried to edit my work. (Though "Sansabelt Pants Sale! $59.99!" certainly would be an inspired suggestion on your part.)

Awesome Woolen  iPod Pouch—Closed
There are times we tend to discount our skill or expertise. An engineer who's been honing their artistic skills for years might say their art "is just a hobby." An accountant who can fix anything mechanical might claim "awww, it's just something I picked up as a kid." A nurse who knits caps for patients might feel "I'm just trying to help out."

There are a few different ways to measure whether or not you're an expert at something. One is the 10,000 hour (or 10-years at about 20 hours a week of focused practice) rule made famous by Malcolm Gladwell. If you've been doing something that long, you can consider yourself an expert. Why? Because everyone else does.

Another way to define expertise is "continual, focused practice over time." No year limits. You just do it for a long time and declare yourself an expert. And this last part is key...there is no special dinner held when you become an expert...no cake in your office's kitchen...no speech or crown, no passing of the baton. It happens without fanfare or notice. It's a role you step into of your own accord.

Why is this important? Because you're probably selling yourself short on your skills and abilities. I've been reading tarot for 25 years, but a year ago I did not classify myself as an expert. I did not consider myself worthy of, say, writing a book on it. Or teaching classes. Or doing it professionally. The difference in the amount of actual, hands-on tarot experience I had last year and what I have this year is insignificant. The difference in the amount of confidence I have now, however, is paramount. The confidence is what made me take those steps to write and teach, not some outside source telling me it was time.

Awesome Woolen  iPod Pouch—Open
People are so afraid they'll be labeled "conceited" if they consider themselves an expert at anything. And really that just means less competition for those of us who are willing to step into our expert underpants...haha. Those of us who plan to get rich off our expertise NEED people like you to buy our stuff and look up to us. So it's cool if you'd rather stay humble. :D

My personal definition of being an expert is when you start realizing that the experts aren't saying anything you don't already know...and that they're not saying stuff you DO know. That's when you know it's time to share your voice with the world. Or at least claim your expert badge. Even if you've just got the first part of the equation, you're "expert enough". I mean, if they're expert enough and they've got nothing on you, then what else could you be?

Today I can say I'm an expert writer. I'm an expert in advertising, marketing and copywriting. I'm an expert in tarot. In dog rearing. And I'm an expert in the area of spiritual thought and personal growth. The last one was a little hard for me to claim because of my own insecurities. But I'm claiming it. I certainly meet the 10,000 hour quota in all areas mentioned. Soon I'll get my badge in making hand-sewn woolen pouches, too. Once that happens, expect to see me on Oprah.

So what are your areas of expertise? And what areas are you developing now?



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