Do you think of yourself as a Subject Matter Expert, or a Subject Matter Resource?
One definition of an Expert that, I believe may be problematic for trainers is: One with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.
The word that concerns me in that definition is “Mastery”. I believe mastery is a journey, and not an end state. When you start to think of yourself as a Master, it can be easy to stop doing the work that got you to that level and as a result stop learning and growing.
One definition of Resource is: a source of supply, support, or aid, especially one that can be readily drawn upon when needed. As a Subject Matter Resource you are someone others can count on for support, information, direction, and assistance. You are there to help guide others to self-discovery of answers and solutions. You are there to connect people seeking help or information with others who can supply that. Because you are continually reading, listening, and participating in training you also serve as a reference to direct people to books, podcasts, courses or other sources of information.
A resource is there to be of service to others. As a resource it is easier to say, “I don’t know.” and then work with others to figure it out. It is also easier to retain the ‘beginner’s mind’.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
I realize that “Expert” is a term the courts use to qualify people as Expert Witnesses, but even then the role of the expert is to be a resource to the court to help the triers of fact make an educated decision based on an understanding of the research, evidence and science.
Even if others refer to you as an ‘expert’, it is important to retain a heart of service and a resource mindset.
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