I have always said that I would never consider myself an expert in anything because there is always so much more to learn. The interesting thing with that is it sounds a lot like perfectionism. If one can’t do it right why do it at all?!
According to Werner Heisenberg in his writing ‘Physics and Beyond’, 1969; “An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject and how to avoid them.”
If that were the case than we would all be experts in life! I believe it is more complicated than that.
The Oxford Pocket School Dictionary published in 1996 states that an expert is “a person with great knowledge or skill in something.”
So I think I am understanding an expert to be someone who knows just a little bit more than other people. However, the topics we become ‘experts’ on are constantly growing and evolving. So should anyone be able to use the expert label? I suppose that is where the perfectionist comes in. If one can never know all there is to know about something or even come close to knowing it all should anyone ever hold the expert title?
Everyone can teach themselves what they need to know through books and the internet so then should someone who has not gone to college or university or apprenticed be called an expert? Does one need an official degree or certificate? Many people would agree that a self-proclaimed expert cannot be nearly as experienced or knowledgeable as one who is claimed as an expert by others so how can we learn so much and yet be refused the great ‘expert’ title if we learn on our own?
I personally never feel like I know enough about anything no matter how much I learn, but others know that they know more than others and offer that advice. Great! I have no problem with people sharing what they have experienced I think the whole world would be better off if sharing were fashionable. However, how do we know that what they are saying is right or true if we don’t know as much as they do? Yup more issues with the self-proclaimed expert or even with the recommended expert.
Really I suppose being an expert is a matter of opinion so should we look for these so called experts when looking for help or to learn new things? I doubt it. There is no knowing what is right or true unless we try it our selves, watch other people try it or learn from real relationships. When one chooses to use an ‘expert’ they are doing so at their own risk for the sake of a title that makes the person seem more knowledgeable and important.
What’s the difference between an expert and someone who claims to be able to do the job or to know about the topic? Is it a reference? A certificate or degree? Using large words when talking or throwing in statistics? I can say I can build websites….I do create my own after all. Would I advertise just from that to be able to build websites for other people? Probably not. Does it come down to confidence or cockiness? How can we decide if the person is qualified when they are just starting out?
Perhaps I have opened the door on a huge debate or a large and extensive topic but it is one I have wondered about for a long time. So what do you think about the expert title and the perfectionist downfalls? Are they connected? Can one ever be an expert? I would love to know how others feel about this topic. Perhaps just to be a confidence builder for those that question their abilities or perhaps to clarify for people what they should be looking for in their learning and job needs.
Seeing as society creates the titles and outlines the qualifications I thought there would be no better way to understand this topic than to pose it to the general public.
“To establish oneself in the world , one has to do all one can to appear established.” -La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, 1678