Is Your Expertise Killing You? - The Brilliance Mine

Is Your Expertise Killing You?

Your expertise IS killing you! An outrageous statement. Read on to find out what led me to this conclusion. But first a story…

When I was a kid, I had metal roller skates. I’m dating myself here, but they were the old kind (we call them “vintage” now) that I strapped onto my shoes. The wheels were narrow and hard as a rock.

Our house was at the top of a long, steep hill. It didn’t take long before I decided to race down that hill. It was exhilarating. I went over and over. Down the hill. Back up. Back down. Wheeee! There was nothing soft to catch me if I didn’t make it. I had no helmet, knee pads, wrist pads, and stoppers to slow me down.

Nonetheless, soon after I started, I felt like an expert. I had it down. Yeah! I was riding slaloms. I executed elegant – and sometimes not so elegant – pirouettes to slow myself down when I had to. There is a car coming! Boy, that was close!

In any case, I survived the rides, and I was feeling good on my skates.

Against all odds, my roller-skating did not kill me.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As I grew older, people asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Great question. I had many interests (I still do)! Why do I have to pick?

  • First, I wanted to be a farmer.
  • Then, I thought I wanted to be a journalist. I LOVED writing! (I still do!)
  • I ended up becoming a chemist. In Germany, you have little hope for an excellent job in chemistry unless you have got a Ph.D. degree. Thus, getting a Ph.D. as part of my career choice.
  • After almost eight years of university – first in Germany and then in the U.S. – I graduated with my Ph.D. degree. I wanted to keep doing research. I wanted to be a professor.
  • I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in different academic institutions.
  • Then after three years, I changed my mind and joined a high-tech company.

Expertise Is Serious Business!

Somewhere along the lines, I learned this: Expertise is serious business. It isn’t like the carefree mindset of strapping on a pair of roller skates and running down the hill.

No, in the adult world, the rules are different. You study and learn. You become an expert. Preferably one with impressive letters after your name. Ph.D., P.E., M.D., J.D., to name a few. It can be quite the alphabet soup. Although, there are experts without all those letters, too.

Many experts become indispensable in their companies or organizations.

Eric’s Story

For example, I think of my ex-colleague Eric. He was the “man” when it came to trouble-shooting our radio-frequency-based detectors. When some mysterious noise showed up in our signal (which happened often enough), we called Eric. Somehow Eric would solve the problem. It was like magic!

Eric never taught his complete “magic” to any of us. He shared a helpful trick here and there. Yet, no one ever got the “whole enchilada.”

Lucky for me, I left the company before Eric did. Our company without Eric – I don’t even want to imagine that. It is too awful even to contemplate.

Eric was a good-natured guy. Unlike many experts, he wasn’t afraid to reveal his trouble-shooting secrets. But it was clear Eric didn’t have conscious access to a lot of his wisdom. He just knew and tried the right things in a given situation.

Many experts are like that. They “just know” their stuff, and they struggle to explain it to someone else entirely.

Then there is another hurdle: On a conscious or subconscious level, they think, “If I teach you all I know the company will not need me anymore!

That hidden scarcity thinking is commonplace. I, too, didn’t question it for many years because it was normal.

A Discovery That Provides the Path For A Paradigm Shift

Then a few years ago, I made a discovery. I realized I could pull knowledge and wisdom out of someone’s brain and document it. I call this unique combination of expertise, experience, and wisdom “brilliance.”

I could make the expert’s invisible brilliance visible, trainable, and transferrable. That way, if someone like Eric were to leave, we’d still have his wisdom. We could avoid the brain drain that otherwise would result. Imagine that pain!

As I began to call it, this Brilliance Extraction process even works on subconscious competence. It is the brilliance that only rises to the surface when needed.

Your Expertise Is Killing You!

Along the way, it hit me: Your expertise is killing you!

What on earth do I mean with that?

Eric was THE master of trouble-shooting our R.F. detectors. Whenever there was a problem we couldn’t solve readily, we relied on him. Eric also loved engineering new designs. Yet, how much time did he have for that? Often there was not much time left for it.

That was a shame because Eric had much talent for creating new designs.

  • What if the company had encouraged and supported Eric to systematically share much more of his knowledge?
  • What if it had been documented?
  • What would have been possible?
  • What did the company miss out on?
  • What did Eric missout out on?

Let’s Uncover The Hidden Scarcity Thinking

One thing is for sure: The company would NOT have fired Eric. He could have done more innovative work instead of managing the brilliance he already had acquired.

Our old, scarcity-driven way of treating our expertise is killing us in today’s world. Innovative experts spend too much time managing their expertise. They must dish it out daily because no one else can do it. They don’t have time for innovations or bringing their company to the next level.

It Is Time To Shift Our Paradigm

It is time we shift the paradigm. Experts need to pass on their expertise and focus on acquiring more. Let’s quit risking brain drain and quit wasting their time on managing their brilliance. Let’s put their time to higher use.

As company owners, we must “bottle” our expertise that fuels the success of our companies. We must also capture the subconscious parts of brilliance. Or else your experts are handcuffed by their expertise.

What if we don’t do this? Our expertise will be killing us.

  • The world changes too rapidly to do well when we tolerate brain drain.
  • Don’t expect to survive long-term when you are bogging down your most innovative people.
  • They must have time for thinking of what is next instead of managing their expertise.

To proceed, we must shift our paradigm. We must reveal the underlying scarcity thinking and abandon it.

The Conclusion

I think back to my days as a kid with those roller skates. Imagine I had declared myself an expert and carefully guarded my “secrets to success.” It would have taken the fun out of it. Doing this would have also tied up my time. It would have killed my creativity. I might never have tried to build a skateboard from my roller skates. That, by that way, almost did kill me. LOL.

This analogy may seem ridiculous. Yet sometimes it takes an absurd metaphor to make something obvious. We are killing ourselves by holding our expertise close to our chests instead of converting them into knowledge assets. The result is less fun, less fortune, and a lesser future!

You Might Be Curious: What Can You Do Next?

Come to my next webinar. Within only 60 minutes, we will

  • Talk about the paradigm shift I’m proposing
  • Discuss what it takes to make this shift successfully. We must do this in ways that work practically.
    • We must not bog down our experts while we do this.
    • We must look at the benefits for both your company and your experts.
  • Consider the needs and desires of all involved parties
    • The owner/s who are experts themselves
    • Expert employees
    • Employee-owners

I’m Curious

Are you interested in this webinar? Message me, please. I also very much appreciate it if you let your friends know about it.

Live Brilliantly,

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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