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.
Black Hockey Jesus. Father Expert.
Black Hockey Jesuss last blog post..Shiva Nataraja II
So, what’s your favourite colour? And your shoe size?
No promises, mind, but you never know…
Blogging Therapy 🙂
I am an expert, an expert at being me, and since that’s all my blog is about, guess I am doing it right! LOL!
Spookygirls last blog post..In honor of FINALLY being able to use CommentLuv..
I needed to read that…. Actually, Clint needs to read it, too–probably more than I do. He doesn’t post much on our blog because he thinks he isn’t an “expert,” so he thinks he has nothing to say. I keep telling him that he knows a LOT of things that other people don’t, and he’s so fun to read that they would come even if he didn’t, but he doesn’t quite hear me. (I’m his wife, so I HAVE to like his writing, right?)
I sent him a link, but I’ll bet you five bucks he argues about it, and/or thinks it doesn’t apply to him for some reason….
Caroles last blog post..Record Any Audio on Your Computer, Including Streaming Audio from the Internet
I feel like I have been telling people to relax, be themselves, and just write all week! I’m sending them all to you from now on, Havi. You say it so much better.
Jamie Simmermans last blog post..The Unseen Struggle
Love love love reading your posts. They are always so full of little treasures. I just discovered The Bloggess. OMG. I will probably have to go change my pants from laughing so hard. Thanxxxoxoxo–
Heidi Fischbachs last blog post.."That Thing" we want to change
I like the definition of an expert as somebody that knows 5% more than you do.
When I started as a coach a whopping 4 whole years ago I worried myself sick that people would realize I was still learning (And I still am) and want a real life coach. I never said to a client “Hey do you realize you’re my first ever paying client?” In the same way as I doubt any newly qualified brain surgeon bursts into a patients room to announce they are the first living person he or she has ever operated on or an airline pilot announces to the passengers this is his first time alone.
The really sad thing is that I have no idea where this comment is going. I set off with some great expert intentions because I’ve written a book so I must know what I’m talking about, and now look at it. It’s a travesty of a comment. A good job I can run away before I get laughed off the Internet…again.
Tim Brownsons last blog post..Let’s Get Political
Whoaaah! Wait a minute, Are you seriously telling me I don’t need to point to anything to prove I know what I know except that fact that I’m telling you I know it?! 😉
Love it, H!
Nobody gives you permission to share whatever it is you need to share. And, no matter how far along you are in the journey, there’ll always be someone whose at a point where what you have to share will be a massive help…even if it’s just your own unique voice.
Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Jonathan Fieldss last blog post..7 Ways To Lose An Argument Before It’s Started
Havi, you totally rock. Thanks for this post. You’re just awesomely awesome 🙂
I heart you Havi! The only other thing I would add to this wonderfully awesome post is that I wish I had a sidekick like Selma helping me out on my non-expert expert practice. Any suggestions? How did you come to find her?
Lynn Crymbles last blog post..Hey Digital Socialite, What’s In it For Me?
I was reading my feed reader and found this amazing video about Nick Vuijicic. I thought it fit in with the whole “believe in yourself” theme. So I came back to share.
Jamie Simmermans last blog post..Clearer Writing: Dare to be Blue
Wow, I’m so motivated and inspired by your example! Especially the way you can tap into the collective fears,hopes and desires of all of us. You really are a role model for me.
Havi, I loved this. But I have one lingering question? What is the magic of tapping just under the nose? Because it really made a difference (not being sarcastic here). Is that an acupressure point? What *was* that? I loved it 🙂
Yield to Pedestrians last blog post..The Secret to Launching a Successful Second Career
@Yield to Pedestrian – I just fell madly in love with your blog. Just the pun in the name alone is freaking genius.
About the tapping (I think you’re referring to yesterday’s post) … it’s an acupressure spot that’s connected to emotional memory.
The idea is that you’re giving yourself something to focus on and calm you down, while also gently shaking up some of your stuckness.
@All you guys …. you crack me up. Seriously. Especially Tim. But all of you. Yay for being self-proclaimed experts at being ourselves!
Six months!??! Are you kidding? OK. I just got a little blog envy. Because I’ve been blogging for a long, long, long time (I started my first one four years ago.) — and I AM on alltop. And…and….and I like your blog better!
(And okay. I never paid attention to getting any readership. It just….happened. It’s not huge and biggified like yours. But it just….happened. 😉 )
But you’re absolutely right about all this. In fact, I was talking to someone just the other day about what I do. Turned out, the stuff he needed wasn’t the stuff I do – so I referred him to someone else. I’d do the same thing if someone needs someone who is “more of an expert” than I am. (And the thing is….I know those people too. So I can refer them.)
There’s always something we know that once we say it in our voice — will work to help someone. (And the people who need a different voice or different info? They’ll find it.)
All the best!
Deb Owens last blog post..worried about layoffs? (what to do if you decide to start looking)
Excellent post Havi.
You know a few years back while still in college – I had absolutely no idea of what I wanted to do.
And my mentor – Sean D’Souza asked me to write a marketing column for his membership site.
My first thought was: he is asking me to write!?
My second thought was: he is asking me to write about marketing!?!?
I was not an expert in either. And thats when Sean said something that changed me. That made me un-afraid from ever speaking out about what I know – even if I know very little.
(If I ever come out abrasive and sound like a know-it-all – you know who to blame now 🙂 :p)
He told me: a 8 year old kid can teach things to a 7 year old. A 7 year old can teach stuff to a 6 year old.
Everyone is an expert because there will always be someone who knows less than we do. Just as there will always be someone who knows more than we do.
Ankesh Kotharis last blog post..How To Eradicate Poverty (Without Doing Charity)
My head just exploded. Seriously.
You just made my whole week.
Jenny, Bloggesss last blog post..I’m not even sure why we *have* katanas anymore
Thank you! I needed that since I’ve been having a little mental argument with myself on that very topic. 🙂 “Who am I too..”
Roses last blog post..How to Cook: The Five Senses in the Kitchen
‘No one is an expert and everyone is an expert.’ How very true.
I think my most successful posts have been when I really blew it in some venture, acknowledged it, learned from it, and shared it. The comments I get back are, ‘hey, that’s JUST what happened to me…’
Good to be reminded of that. Thanks! G.
Graces last blog post..Best quotation sources on the Internet
Let me say that, just by finding your blog (and a few others) recently has led to a little voice in my head going “My blog community DOES exist!” I may still have some marinating and private water-testing-by-email to play with first, but feeling like there’s a community for the kind of blog I would want to write is very encouraging and joy-making.
I do want to bring up my own personal qualms (fears) – 1) that a current or future employer discovers my blog and it hurts my career and/or 2) some creep engages in cyberstalking or otherwise invades my privacy through the information I put in a blog b/c I was too vulnerable. I’m not talking about someone who makes insensitive comments, but more than that. Now, as I write this, I see how silly it is to let these fears stop me. But I thought I’d bring up for the sake of discussion, nonetheless.
I wonder if others have shared those qualms, and what helped them develop a degree of appropriate safety around them.
Exactly what I needed and just what I was looking for. You are such a talented writer. Thanks for the thoughtfulness and the laughs. (“Hi stuff.”) Call me a new subscriber.
Sues last blog post..Slots, Fish, and Romance
We often underestimate ourselves. And it shows in the way we feel about what we can write about, and about what others can say. But in truth, there is only one “you”, and no other person can write anything in this world exactly as you can.
I TAKE OFF THE MASKs last blog post..Fear Not My Child (poem)