These days everyone is positioning themselves as the ‘experts’ in their fields. As long as we know a little bit more than the average person, we give ourselves permission to talk and act as if we know it all. The word ‘expert’ is carelessly thrown into bios and profiles, devaluing the integrity and the actual meaning of the word.
When I think of the word ‘expert,’ I think of someone who has continuously and rigorously studied their field for decades and has challenged their own thinking through trial and errors, collaboration with others, and years of experience working in the area. The irony is that often these people do not call themselves experts because the deeper they delved in and learned about their field, the more they realized just how much they don’t know.
Throwing the word ‘expert’ around as a way of faking it until making it is not only dishonest, it also has adverse effects on how we conduct ourselves with others and how we approach our mistakes. We become over-confident and start to actually believe that we are better than everyone else.
Adam Galinsky at Northwestern University studied the relationship between power and being able to see other people’s perspective. He divided the participants into two groups and before the experiment, the first group performed exercises that made them feel powerful. The second group partook in activities that emphasized their lack of power.
When they brought them into the experiment, they realized that those who got a sense of power became less able to see someone else’s point of view. The study found that there is an inverse relationship between how much power people feel and how open they are to perceive other’s perspective.
The heightened sense of power brings down our ability to be good listeners, perspective-seekers, and problem-solvers. We start shoving our opinions down other’s throats, become offended when our views are challenged, and hide our mistakes. We become closed off to criticism which halts our progress and stops our growth as individuals and professionals.
Pride and progress don’t go hand in hand. Seeing the world through our pride-filter clouds our judgment and compromises our thinking. We place ourselves above everyone else who is continuously learning, practicing, and working on improving their thinking and skills.
If we stay humble and grateful for learning opportunities, we will actively seek other’s perspectives, challenge our thinking, and own up to our mistakes. Our focus will shift from having to protect a fake identity to becoming better versions of ourselves day after day.