Raise your hand if you’re an expert or an expert in the
I hope all of you have done so since today just about anyone
in business is an expert.
What do I mean?
If you have a little more knowledge than the next person
(and in some area I assure you you do), you are an expert. Your expertise can
be anything from doing econometric modeling … to video editing … to website
design … to you get the idea.
And the great thing is that today you don’t need to hide
your expertise. The Internet has made it possible for anyone to showcase his or
her expertise via a blog and other social media.
However, expertise will get you only so far. The other half
of the equation if you want to retail your expertise is confidence. Yes, plain,
old-fashioned confidence. Combine expertise with a healthy dose of confidence
and I guarantee your talents will shine.
Ignore either one, however, and you’ll either be a blowhard, selling
nothing but bluster, or bustling with knowledge that few appreciate.
I especially like how Tony Schwartz, the president and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: Four Keys to Transforming How We Work and Live defines confidence in a recent Harvard Business Review article.
“Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance,” says Schwartz.
Don’t think for a moment that confidence and expertise are outside your reach. The key is practice.
Rest assured that we don’t suddenly
appear fully articulate and adept at something without a lot of hard work in
the background. As Swartz notes in the HBR article, “Deliberate practice will
almost always trump natural aptitude.”
I was struck by this recently when I heard an NPR interview
with Rep. Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman, recovering from a
devastating brain injury after being shot. Giffords, who is relearning how to
talk, was nevertheless able to give her nurse who was prepping for a media
interview some advice gleaned from her years before the public. Her two
sentence words of advice: “practice, practice.”
I can’t emphasize those two words enough. While someone may
appear to be a flawless performer or speaker, rest assured that years of hard work
and practice lay behind that.
Of course, we need the discipline to practice. It’s easy to
throw in the towel and say we won’t master a subject. That we just don’t have
the talent or we’ve hit a wall and can’t get beyond it. The fact is that we can
go further than we think we can if we continue to learn and practice what we
How have you found that practice improves your performance?
I’d love to hear from you.
Follow @FastCoLeaders for all of our leadership news, expert bloggers, and book excerpts.
Wendy Marx, B2B PR and Marketing Communications Specialist, Marx Communications
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