"Become an expert." Seems like good advice. Experts have a reputation that precedes them. They are in demand as employees, contractors and consultants. They often get higher salaries, generally climb the career ladder faster and bring prestige to themselves and to the companies for which they work.
But just what is an expert? "An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgments simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore," says Edward de Bono, a physician, inventor and author of several books, including Six Thinking Hats, who coined the phrase "lateral thinking."
How do you become an expert? Here are six tips that can put you on the road to "knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore." They will also help you use your expertise for the common good.
Find a subject that deeply interests you. Then ask, "Is it relevant and does it have long-reaching implications for business, health, culture, the environment, social change, spirituality, the arts or a combination of the above?" If the answer is "yes," immerse yourself in it and learn as much as you can about it.
Get real world experience in that subject. Learn the ins and outs from the ground up. Take the time to get the real-life, day-to-day experience that brings genuine knowledge and deep understanding.
Stay focused. Don't let anyone or anything distract you.
Ask yourself, "How can what I know about this subject be used positively?" Then become part of positive change.
Communicate what you know simply. Write a book, start a blog, give interviews, write articles and present lectures. Spread your knowledge to as many people as possible in language they can easily understand.
Stay on the crest of the wave. Don't be content with what you think you know now. Continue to learn and develop deeper expertise in this subject and allow yourself to be open to learning about new ones.
Marie R. Stempinski is president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations, marketing and business development and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.