This post originally appeared on Women 2.0.
It never fails – you find yourself at the cross-section of finally figuring out what you want to share with the world when self-doubt and self-questioning sets in. Instead of moving forward, you’re stuck asking yourself: “Am I expert enough to do this?”
Then you start comparing your background and experience with someone else in the field and decide you come up short in some areas: not as many years in the game, you’re younger in age, you haven’t worked with that one special client, you don’t know everything in the field, and so on.
You end up ditching your brilliant idea and direction for an easier path, or altogether, because you feel that your experience doesn’t add up.
Before getting stuck in paralysis analysis forever or ditching your dream, use this guide to test and gauge your expertise and finally answer the question, “Am I expert enough?”
1. Have you Experienced What you are Trying to do or Teach?
The old adage, “Write what you know,” is a common phrase because what you know is the path of least resistance. The same should apply if you are embarking on a journey or starting a business.
While it’s not necessary to have experienced the outcomes you are trying to share with others, it will instantly increase your expertise quotient.
Here’s why: People want to relate to a success story. If you’re eliminating their pain, they want to know that you have been where they are and have come out on the other side.
When you have your own experience or story to share, you become an instantly recognized expert – and you are your best billboard.
The Test: Write your story or your ‘before and after’ – leave no detail out. How did your transformation happen, what was your experience, and are there other people who are trying to achieve the same thing?
2. Do you Have the Knowledge Base?
For many of us, this is the step that gets us the most stuck. Thinking we don’t know everything about the topic or even as much as another expert in the field, we can’t possibly be an expert too.
If you are waiting until you are the preeminent expert in something, you will never give yourself permission to be enough.
There will always be someone out there who will know more than you in every topic. Which is great for you because there is an opportunity for you to learn even more.
Instead of worrying about the knowledge you don’t have (yet), focus on the knowledge you do have. Our own knowledge strengths usually come so naturally to us that we forget that other people don’t know those things too… which leaves us overlooking the power of what we know.
What you know can help someone else – even if you don’t know everything yet.
The Test: Make a list of all of the questions people ask you, all of the advice you’ve given in the past, the results people have achieved through following your guidance – including your own, and create your special skills and knowledge inventory. This is unique to you – and there’s someone out there who needs exactly those ingredients.
3. Test the Waters
Asking if we’re expert enough is sometimes an arbitrary roadblock we put in our own way because we’re a bit fearful how the “big bad world” will react to us putting a stake in the ground.
It can be incredibly scary to announce to the world that you are an expert in a specific area – leaving yourself open to criticism and defending your position.
This fear will stop you from ever feeling enough. Instead, test the waters without a big declaration.
The Test: Reach out to a few people who may need your guidance and provide it to them. Build up more touch points and stories of transformation to increase your external expertise perception, but also to help you build confidence with being expert enough.
Remember: Being an expert, doesn’t mean you know everything there is to know. It means that you have enough expertise and knowledge in a specific niche, to be able to help others learn and transform.