Tuesday! Let’s do this thing. This is number six in our weekly series on how to take some of the scary out of blogging (or of anything else).
Wanna catch up? You don’t have to. But here are the rest, just in case:
Part 1. What if people are mean to me?
Part 2. What if I throw a party and no one shows up?
Part 3. Why even bother when there are already other people doing it better?
Part 4. What do I saaaaaaaaaaaaaaay?
Part 5. Help! Perfectionism! Gaaaaak!
Today we’re (gently) tackling the theme that freaks just about everyone out: expertise. And us thinking we don’t have any.
In other words, the whole who am I to write anything about anything when I’m not a real expert? thing.
Gasp! Cough! I’m not an expert! Get me off the stage!
What’s this pattern? What are we even talking about?
Well, part of it is fear of being “found out”. As in, what if people figure out what a total fakerooney you are and laugh you off the internet?
[Being laughed off the internet is something I hear a lot. Trust me when I say that no one gets laughed off the internet. The internet is a big, big, big place and there is room for everything and everyone.]
But I don’t want to imply that this is just the usual paranoid stuff that comes up for all of us when we’re feeling frightened and vulnerable.
Because this concern also feels completely legitimate. How can I give information to people if I’m not an expert in it?
And, as I say every week, keep in mind that this isn’t really about blogging. It’s about working on your “stuff” and meeting yourself where you are.
Maybe you don’t have a blog and couldn’t care less. Or maybe you’re a much bigger and more formidable expert than I am on this topic — it doesn’t matter. This “I’m not good enough and someone else is better” is a completely human theme.
So you should be able to relate this stuff to pretty much anything you’re working on.
Things to think about …
Even the experts aren’t experts.
That’s because — in some sense — there’s no such thing as, you know, the ultimate expertise where you know everything about whatever it is you’re an expert in.
A real expert is someone who knows how little she actually knows and is throwing herself into learning more.
No matter where you are in your field and no matter how much you know about a topic, there’s pretty much always going to be someone (or — more likely — thousands of someones) who knows more about it than you do.
Which is why you need to say “So what?!”
I’ll let you in on a secret. People don’t come to you for expertise.
Like, if you really just wanted to know about blogging, you would not be reading this right now.
Because you know what? I’ve only been blogging for six months.
Not even. It will be six months this Sunday. Yes, you may send congratulations and fansocks. But my point is, you could easily be listening to someone who’s been doing this for years.
No, I’m not an “expert”. I haven’t even been featured in Alltop. And I’m not going to be on a panel at SXSW this year (though if they don’t invite me next year I’m pitching a fit).
The people who read me show up for the love. For the compassion. For the chance to hang out with someone who isn’t going to lecture them and beat them up with a bunch of shoulds.
Well, let’s be honest. Most of you come here for my duck.
But even if I didn’t have Selma on board, the people who need my perspective on things would come here anyway to grab a quick dose of calm.
It’s not about the expertise.
It’s about your unique voice and the people who need to hear YOU and not someone else.
Even the “experts” have this fear.
Yep. It’s normal. Everyone always fears that they aren’t expert enough.
Just yesterday I got invited to be a guest expert at a program where every single other expert is a published best-selling self-help author. Of course the first thought I had was what the hell am I doing there?
And then I remembered that I want to be there (yay) and that everyone else is probably wondering the same thing — and that not being impressed with how cool you yourself actually are is a very, very human thing.
You’re not the only one doubting yourself and your abilities. So shift your focus to finding ways to feel safe and comfortable being you.
Because otherwise you could spend your life racking up “expertise” and still not like yourself. And that would be really sad.
And also a shame. Because your “right people” need you now. They need your insights and thoughts from where you are in this moment. Not a distant voice from some lofty pedestal.
You don’t NEED to be an expert.
Really. If you’re going to be giving someone advice on something, what they need from you is for you to be human — and to be one step ahead of them.
People don’t want expertise. They want humanity. They crave intimacy and closeness. They want their pain to be acknowledged and heard and understood.
If you’re this big-shot expert who knows everything about everything (or acting like one), you’re too far away from the people who need you. You can’t feel their pain. You can’t empathize with them. You can’t connect with them.
People want desperately to know that you “get it”. Not that you’re so far over it that they can’t identify with you.
You really don’t want people to say about you, “Oh, I could never do the thing he’s trying to teach me … he’s an expert and I suck.” You want people to say, “Wow, I’m so motivated and inspired by your example!”
Stop trying to be this perfect expert and start modeling for other people what it’s like to admit that you’re afraid.
Demonstrate for them (and for yourself) what it’s like to let yourself be human … and to show up with what you know, trusting that your right people will find you and appreciate you.
No one is an expert and everyone is an expert.
Derek Silvers who founded CDbaby.com — the guy who wrote some of the most genius marketing advice ever (for musicians who are basically the most anti-marketing people in the world!) isn’t an “expert”.
Sure, he is now, but he wasn’t when he started. Just some guy in Portland (yay, Portland!) who really cared about music.
Naomi from Itty Biz? Not an expert. Again, she is now, but not when she launched her site. She was just a girl who had some ideas and needed to make some money.
Me? Hahahahahaha. Not an expert.
Fine, I am now, but when I launched the Fluent Self website (not the blog) three years ago, I was just a yoga teacher who had a bunch of complicated theories about how people could change their habits and solve their problems.
It never occurred to me that anyone would listen to me. Seriously.
And yet we’re all experts. Through trying. Through experience. Through putting our thing out there and finding our right people. Well, through allowing them to find us.
Everyone knows something about something. If you know more about that something than someone who doesn’t know anything about that something, that’s expertise.
You have it and they want it. So share it.
The art of being human and vulnerable.
Again, people want to relate to you. Which means that being a real live human being who has issues and fears and worries is a good thing.
You can bring transparency to your lack of expertise. Like when Naomi launched her SEO School ebook. She was really, really clear that this is not a product for experts. It’s for beginners who don’t know what they’re doing.
That’s completely legitimate. It’s not only legitimate, it’s admirable. People will respect you more for showing up and being who you are, than for being distant and snooty.
No one actually wants or needs you to be an expert but you. This is all your stuff again. (Hi, stuff).
It’s natural and it’s normal and it’s okay. But in the meantime, there are people out there who need you. They need your voice and your energy. They need the stuff you know and your unique way of talking about it.
And actually my favorite blog in the entire world is written by someone who claims zero expertise in anything and just shows up without it. Every time she writes, she models for me what it’s like to be your wacky, kooky self and put it out there.
If you’re thinking, “But but but …. I can’t be vulnerable!“, no worries. We’ll be talking about that in next week’s Blogging Therapy piece.
In the meantime, give being a non-expert expert a chance.
Show up. Start writing. Start practicing being yourself in little tiny doses.
And the most amazing thing is going to happen.
As you do this practice, it will build your expertise. Because you’ll realize that you know more than you think you do. And that people appreciate you. And you’ll get that much better at appreciating yourself
And by then maybe it will be easier to release this old pattern of needing to be something you aren’t, so that you can come into what you are.
It’s going to be beautiful.