Congratulations! You are the world’s expert.
That’s right: you are the world’s expert…on yourself, that is. Nobody knows more about you than you. Nobody can sell you better than you. And whether or not you realize it, your self-expertise is an invaluable tool that will transform the way you communicate in your business and personal lives.
But what does the term ‘expert’ actually mean? It seems like almost everybody is an expert these days!
The word expert comes from the Latin noun expertus, or ‘person wise through experience.’ But remember, there are two kinds of experts: professional and personal. Professional experts are people who have tremendous knowledge, experience, accomplishments and accolades in a specific field, i.e., personal fitness or child psychology. There are tens of thousands of these individuals around the world. And you might you read about them in articles, watch them on CNN or listen to them give a speech at an industry convention.
Then there are personal experts, of which there are millions around the world. Personal experts are individuals who know exactly who they are, who they aren’t, what they believe, which values and passions they hold dear and what their purposes are. These experts are the people others are magnetized to. The people who carve out their names out in the minds of everyone they touch. These are the people who achieve the highest levels of success in their lives – because they are experts on themselves.
Finding Clues to Self-Expertise
Tang dynasty painter Wu Tao Tzu said ‘Knowing others is wisdom, but knowing yourself is enlightenment.’ So the question is: how can you increase your level of self-expertise? Let’s examine three major clues.
Clues are what some people might call epiphanies, moments of clarity, visions, omens, signs and the like. My first one was discovered during Thanksgiving of 2000. For the first time ever, I was about to tell my parents that I planned to wear a nametag all day, every day for the rest of my life to make people friendlier. As we sat down to eat, my dad just stared at that nametag on my shirt. I was shaking in my sandals. I thought he was going to throw the yams across the room when I told him.
Sure enough, halfway through the meal my dad initiated one of those ‘We Just Want to Help You’ type of discussions, starting with the following sentence: ‘Scott…we’re your parents. So come on – what’s the deal with the nametag?’
And then I uttered a sentence that I’m pretty sure has never been delivered in the history of the world: ‘Mom, Dad…I want to wear a nametag all day, every day for the rest of my life!’
Not even the electric turkey carver could have cut through the uncomfortable silence that followed.
Oh, how I wish you could have seen the look on my father’s face! PRICELESS!
Once he reattached his jaw, my dad looked back at me and had only one word to say…
Cool? COOL?! I said. Dad, are you sure?
‘Oh yeah, I think that’s cool! What a great idea! And it’s perfectly in line with your lifestyle. You know Scott, it seems like you’re really developing into your own person. So if you want to wear a nametag everyday – go for it!’
So I did. And I haven’t taken it off in five years.
CLUE #1: How do the people closest to you respond to your passions?
A few years later a friend of mine asked if I might give a 20-25 minute talk to her Rotary Club about wearing a nametag all the time. My first thought was: what the hell is a Rotary club?
My second thought was: oh my god! 25 minutes? That’s an eternity!
After weeks of preparation, the big day arrived. It was March 13, 2003, and I had never given a speech before in my life. By the time I arrived at the Rotary Club, my armpit stains were so dark, even the 90 year old man in the back could see them!
When my friend Linda introduced me to the audience, I was still shaking. All eyes were on me. God help me! I thought. So, with the most courageous breath I could muster, I said, ‘Hello, my name is Scott…’ And when those first words came out of my mouth, something magical happened. It felt like nothing else in the world mattered. The anxiety left my body. Everything was beautiful. And although I have absolutely no recollection of what I said that morning, it felt like the greatest 25 minutes of my life.
After the speech was over, a man in the back stood up.
‘Scott, my name is Tom Jenkins, chairman of the Portland Rotary Clubs. I just wanted to thank you for speaking to us today – we really enjoyed your talk.’
‘Thanks!’ I said.
‘But if you don’t mind me asking…what do you do?’
‘Oh. Right. Well, right now I sell couches at this furniture store downtown.’
Then Tom said one word that changed my life forever…
The room fell silent.
‘Scott – quit your job selling furniture. You need to become a professional speaker.’
So I did. And since then, I’ve become a professional speaker and have helped tens of thousands of businesses, organizations and students around the world become UNFORGETTABLE communicators – one conversation at a time.
CLUE #2: What do your ‘audience members’ say about your talents?
The last clue to self-expertise came to my attention about 6 months ago when I was giving a speech to a group of 7th graders. I started telling these kids about the two books I’d authored when one of them asked me, ‘Scott, when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?’
I told the students that when I was seven years old, I actually wanted to be an author! Not a writer, but an author. As in, ‘guy who writes books.’ Why I chose that career, I wasn’t sure. Maybe I liked writing. Maybe I thought books were cool. Or maybe it was just the first answer I could come up with.
But I think I was supposed to say that answer. Because right then, during that speech, it hit me like a ton of books. Yes, books – not bricks.
Oh my God! I thought. I really AM an author!
How cool is that?
CLUE #3: What did you want to be when you grew up?
These three examples are just a few of many clues. If you’d like to explore 9 more exercises that will help you enhance your self-expertise, read this related article.