Whether your goal is to write a book, learn HTML, get promoted at work, raise wonderful kids, or help to motivate and inspire others – you should probably aim to become an expert at whatever you are trying to do.
Because it is much easier to achieve any of these goals if:
1) You know what you are doing
2) You have authority and other people trust you
Besides, becoming an expert holds multiple other benefits:
• You become a trusted resource and people appreciate your advice
• You hold the true power to teach others how to succeed
• You gain respect of your co-workers, boss and other people who admire your skills
• You do a great job and make better decisions
• And consequently, you get greater rewards for your efforts (money, gratitude and appreciation)
If you are interested in becoming an expert at almost any field here is a 5 step process that can help you to do just that:
1. Start at the beginning.
The crucial part of becoming an expert is to know a lot about whatever it is you do. In order to gain this knowledge, you must know WHERE to look for it and WHAT questions to ask. And in order to know what to ask, one should first learn the basics and terminology. This is where a lot of people have difficulties. I recently heard an interview given by an Editor of a huge Publishing house. He said that if someone wants to sell a book about any subject for beginners, they should probably name it something like “Advanced time management techniques” or “How to flirt like a pro”. For some reason we strongly dislike thinking of ourselves as amateurs or beginners. Maybe it is a quick-fix mentality talking. Or maybe we subconsciously hope if we learn the pro stuff, the basics will somehow take care of themselves. Who knows?
But unfortunately the truth is that no one can become a master without starting at the beginner’s level first. It would be foolish to give a five-year-old the “New York Times” and expect him to learn how to read. He needs to learn his “ABC” first. Similar memorizing bits and pieces of information here and there can help you to put on a false front for a while, but will not make you a true expert. Therefore, do not skip the first step. Learn the basics really well before you do anything else.
2. Understand the process.
Understanding what you are learning and why, gives you the motivation and focus to act on your goal. But you cannot do anything until you know HOW to do it (at least at some minimal level). Therefore, before taking massive action, learn as much as you can about the area of your interest.
There are many ways you can do this:
• find out if there are any techniques that you can use
• ask people who are already “experts” for help and advice
• watch someone else do it
• read at least one book a month on the topic
• search the Internet for helpful information
• make a resource bank of everything that you feel is worthy as you learn (document and save all the helpful information that you might use in the future),
• attend seminars or take classes
• decide where to start and make an action plan
3. Practiced talent
Normally if you have a strong desire to learn about a specific subject or activity it is because 1) you like doing it or 2) you are motivated by the benefits that it can bring you (e.g. great salary, promotion, respect). In most cases people who do what they enjoy are good at it, because they already have a natural inclination towards this subject/activity, which automatically increases their chances to succeed. This is an ideal situation. In real life we are often required to learn something that we do not like or are not naturally good at. What to do in this case? Step aside and forget about our goal? Not necessarily…
As it turns out, all it takes to succeed is regular practice. Research shows that 10,000 hours of practice can make anyone a top performer in pretty much any field, from business to sports to music. And guess what? Inborn talent is not required! All that counts is your determination and constant desire to improve.
4. Developing your own style.
Let me ask you a question – what is the difference between a pro and a leading expert? A pro is a person who is highly knowledgeable about the subject and has gained some valuable experience by applying his knowledge multiple times in the past. A leading expert is another thing all together. To become top of the top, just blindly following someone else’s guidelines is not enough. You have to develop your own style; and adjust your knowledge to match your needs, personality type, physical characteristics and your environment.
Let me explain this… Let’s say my goal is to learn how to play the guitar. If I was left handed, playing it the way everyone else does will only slow me down and impede my performance. If I want to be the best of the best, I have to adjust what I have learned about playing the guitar to my personal needs and play it my own way. That is exactly what Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney did!
Do not be afraid to experiment! There is no technique or advice that fits everyone 100%. We are all unique. You might be wondering how to take your uniqueness and make it work for you? – Easy!
All you do is:
• Perform a skill
• Monitor performance
• Evaluate success
• Figure out how you can do it better
5. Habitual use of knowledge.
My piano teacher used to tell me, “If you do not practice for a day – you will hear the difference in your performance. If you do not practice for two days – you and I will hear the difference in your performance. If you do not practice for three days – everybody will be able to hear the difference, but you.” Playing the piano is no different to learning any other skill. If you do not use it – you lose it. The easiest way to be great at anything is to do it every day.
This principle is universal. If you want to become a great cook, cook every day! If you want to become a happier person, think happier thoughts and do things that make you happier every day. If you want to become a good parent – spend time with your children and be there for them every day!
“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – Yogi Berra