Some recent random surfing reminded me of a subject I’ve seen written about often: how to be perceived as an expert. Much of the advice is about what you can do to make people think you’re an expert in your area of interest (blog, write an article, etc). I rarely see anyone address how to actually be an expert. That takes much more time and effort than the several simple steps to appearing to be an expert.
I realize that someone can be an expert and not be perceived as such. From a marketing standpoint, they aren’t benefiting from their expertise. But what worries me are those perceived as experts who really aren’t. Positioning yourself as an expert when you’re not is an ethical compromise. Knowing more about a subject than the average person doesn’t qualify one as an expert. It is disconcerting but often necessary to question the expertise of those giving information and advice.
Real expertise takes years of concerted effort (I’ve read one study that suggests 15 years is typical for acquiring a level of expertise). It involves much study, experience, reflection, teaching, writing, testing, research, reading and more.
In the age of instant gratification, unfortunately, more will pursue the expedient path of perceived expertise rather than the arduous course of actual expertise.