In a recent blog post Seth Godin wrote about The expertise gap. As part of that post, he wrote:
The one thing that everyone is the world’s expert on is their own feelings. In just about every other area that we value, though, there are people with proven expertise, who can show their work, understand the state of the art and produce testable and measurable results.
“Experts” are part of the problem. An expert is someone who has expertise, but sometimes, they forget that past expertise doesn’t mean that they’re always right. When someone with expertise blindly supports a status quo and fails to engage in a relentless search for better, they aren’t showing expertise, they’re simply being a human.
I see that last line as a challenge to all trainers. Past expertise does not mean that you are always right. The question is, are you engaged in a relentless search for better? Or do you have past expertise but find yourself blindly supporting the status quo?
As a trainer, people in your agency will consider you to be a “Subject Matter Expert”. While that sounds like a cool title, it comes with responsibility and accountability. As an SME you have a responsibility to engage in continually learning and growing. You also have a responsibility to be continually striving to enhance the learning experience for the men and women you have the privilege to train, teach, coach and mentor. You are accountable to the men and women you train, your agency and the community you serve to ensure your “expertise’ is current.
Personally, I prefer the term “Subject Matter Resource”. It is too easy to think you have arrived when you consider yourself an “Expert”. That belief causes some people to stop striving, learning and growing. When that happens you are no longer an expert, you are someone who has past expertise.
Engage in the relentless search for better. Seek to understand the state of the art and produce testable and measurable results. What you do is too important to too many people to allow yourself to simply rely on past expertise.
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