In a recent conversation, I was asked, “So, you're an expert in what, exactly? You'd need to develop expertise in some subject. Then people can look to you as an expert.”
Being an expert has never worked for me. An expert is an industrial-age idea about specialization, and as Heinlein put it, specialization is for insects. Functional knowledge, knowledge that I can use to fuel my relatively wide body of interests, is important. But being an expert is not for me, because I'd then be forced into significant opportunity cost: for every option taken that is relevant to expertise, I'd forego other experiences that might inform my life both in and out of my field of work.
This isn't to say that one should not have a path, or focus, or direction, I have those things. But being an “expert” is different from being excellent. Excellence exceeds expertise. Excellence is a deep understanding of oneself, beyond craft. It has no real measure, and it requires awareness and the idea that everything you are made of can be turned into a resource toward something authentic, whether that is a set of past experiences and afflictions or unexpected gifts and assets.
Without trying to be contrarian or play word games I replied that my expertise is being comfortable in a state of doubt, of realizing that nothing is permanent. It's always a good idea to remain fluid, to prepare for the better argument. And I'm very comfortable talking about it to people who will listen and be open to using these ideas for themselves.
This week's piece is about doubt, and about how it's not unusual for people to comfort each other in believing there's more certainty in the world than not. That's all I got.
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