January 21, 2018

The edge of expertise

Business People in a Board meetingWe tend to be most comfortable working in the centre ground of our expertise—where we’re really pretty sure of our ground.


That may not be what’s most useful to people, or to us. That may not be where we make the most difference, or learnt the most.

Often, other people want our help at the edge of their expertise and that’s likely to take us away from where we’re totally sure. Nevertheless, our insights, even if they’re tentative, may help them a lot.

Inklings at the edge of our expertise could be more valuable than certainty in the middle.

Sometimes, the more uncomfortable we are, the more useful our contribution is.

Maybe you need to go the edge more.

As Neale Donald Walsh said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Humility and influence

Group in discussionDo those with the most humility have the most influence? Or is vocalising knowledge and expertise an essential part of gaining the attention required to make a difference?

Often it seems that those who have learned the most have the least need to speak, whilst others who are working things out need to express their ideas outwardly.

Of course, we need to remember some people like to process internally and others externally as a matter of preference, so we need to take that into account.

That allowed for, sometimes it’s the quieter ones—the ones with humility—that really have the knowledge, and in fact the greater influence. Perhaps they know enough to know how much they don’t know, and so we trust them more.

What’s your experience?

Are we too busy justifying ourselves to let knowledge in?

Woman making an emphatic pointIt’s a curious thing…

When we have someone with knowledge or authority in front of us, do we get them talking in order to learn as much as we can from their expertise? Or do we take more of the airtime ourselves, because we feel a greater need to explain what we have done and why?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of paying for someone else’s expertise and then filling the space with our own information; not letting them get close enough to make a difference.

Why does this happen?

It feels safer, I suppose, to discuss the familiar, even if the familiar is the problem, and the unfamiliar is the answer, or part of the road to the answer.

Are you too busy justifying yourself to let people help you?

It’s smarter to let knowledge in.