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Sure. Expert? Why Not.

I used to think being an expert meant years (and I mean more like decades) of experience in any particu

lar topic. Time in the trenches, scads of research, countless hours invested in becoming the best in any given field and the foresight to create contingency plans for any scenario that may present itself, particular to that arena. People like Jane Goodall come to mind. Or Neil de Grasse Tyson. Temple Grandin.


I still think that's what it SHOULD be.


Merriam-Webster defines the term as: "one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject" or when used as an adjective, "having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience."

Nowadays, however, it seems more like it's just about who does the best marketing to create the illusion of such. Who dolls themselves up best, who at least familiarizes themselves with the jargon needed to convince people that they know what they're talking about. It's couched more in confidence than in measurable knowledge and results.


The term "expert" has lost its lustre for me. Especially having experienced enough from the marketing perspective to know that all too often "experts" are too well compensated to provide a truly, unadulterated opinion - which is exactly what I am looking for when I wish to consult one. Or that the "right" experts are brought in to support a theory - those that have been vetted to simply agree with a perspective. Where's the integrity in any of that? If I really wanted to convince you that water is not wet, for the right amount of money and/or fortitude to search, I could find an "expert" or two - perhaps enough to constitute a panel, to support that claim. Look at the flat earth people. They've got "experts" up the wazoo.


Some of it too, just comes from longevity, I suppose. Shortsighted solutions provided by experts prove in the long run to be incorrect, or not quite the best. Think smoking being good for your health, or Olestra, or milk transfusions (instead of blood).


Taking all of this into consideration...and the current climate of things...while I'm pretty confident about a lot of things I do, (and often equally confident in my shortcomings - acknowledging the things I do not do well) I've never considered myself an expert at anything, really....I think I may be shortchanging myself. But to be comfortable even considering that term, I think I need to incorporate some of my own standards into it, time and experience, research, and forethought...so let's see...and I'm removing anything that may just be a natural inclination - something that somehow, whether by genetics or whatnot, I'm considered somewhat talented at.


I'm a good breather. Okay, this one may go against what I've just written, but I've managed to do that quite successfully for 53 and half years - maybe the singing helps - but i can project my voice pretty significantly, swim a decent distance underwater, and calm myself quickly - all as a result of my breathwork. While I can thank my genetics for a decent set of lungs, I have been mindful and deliberate about expanding and maintaining their capacity over my lifetime and how it affects my every day life.


I'm an excellent researcher. I love it as much as I'm good at it. Prior to the internet, many hours were spent at card catalogs or in the reference sections of libraries, just poring over information. Now that I can do it from the palm of my hand, I do it constantly. It helps to be a bit of an out of the box thinker when finding routes to discovery. When people bring to me new resources they have found, I let them relish in the joy - and don't tell them I've been using it for years (unless it's a legitimately brand-new site - I don't claim to know them all - I do have a regular full-time job that takes up a good portion of my week). Let's just say, if you were to construct a profile of me based on my search histories you'd be very, very confused.


I'm a solid parent. While technically, you could argue the jury is still out on that, I managed to raise two kind, thoughtful, and smart human beings, getting them past the age of majority without any run ins with the law, drug addictions, early pregnancies, or serious vices, while stacked against some pretty tough circumstances. They've done good things for others, and continue to do so. They recognize good and have a grounding sense of morality not based in fear. As young adults, they still come to me for advice, still provide me some enlightenment, and we just enjoy each other's company, while still living our own lives...mostly. I say the jury may still be considered out as the older one does live at home, though he works full-time and pays bills more like a roommate and the younger is a full-time college student.


So, breathing, research, and parenting. Oh, and diplomacy. I seem to be consistent in that area of existing as a human. I've been called that many times from all sorts of people. It's really tied to listening - I'm a patient listener and take time to respond tactfully, rather than be impulsive - which tends to be the source of many an interpersonal issue. It's probably tied back a bit to the breathing thing - helps keep one mindful, but I also grew up around a lot of impulsivities - and I wasn't a fan generally. I mean, once in a while, it's a thrill to break out and do something "crazy", but like everything in life, moderation is key. And if I was half my age, I wouldn't include this yet - but being more than halfway to a hundred and having a record of it, I'd say it counts.


I think we all have at least one or two things in our lives we can be considered experts at. It may be something we totally take for granted. Give it some thought. Share yours. I'd love to know who I can go to for what. And know that I'm happy to share my insights with you too!






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