When You Struggle to Own Your Expert Status - Ep #114Sep 13, 2021
A lot of times as we're growing in our businesses or in our careers, we have a tendency to shy Have you ever felt uncomfortable calling yourself an “expert”? On one hand, you have incredible experience and knowledge with your topic, but on the other, it feels there are so many more people who are qualified. Leaving you with the question, who am I to…
...speak on that stage.
… Post that video.
… Create that program.
… call myself an expert.
It’s likely you’ve felt this before. You know that you have a great deal of expertise and know that your experience is valuable that it can help and teach others, BUT you still second guess yourself at almost every turn.
So the question is, do true “experts” feel this way? Is it possible to own your authority AND feel like you’re not qualified enough?
We dive into this today in a real, unscripted conversation where I share my perspective on why calling yourself an expert just doesn’t work, and more importantly, what you should do instead.
Inside this episode you’ll learn:
- The problem with “experts”
- At what point can you actually call yourself one?
- 3 Specific things to think about when you struggle to your own expert status
The Problem with “Experts”
If you're anything like me, you hate the word expert. Justin Bariso, author of this incredible article I found in LinkedIn hit my sentiment on this and explains specifically why. It says, “LinkedIn 101: Please Stop Calling Yourself an Expert. Instead, Just Do This.” He talks about this idea of why you shouldn’t be calling yourself as an expert and the rationale behind this. It's not what you call yourself that matters but instead you have to demonstrate your expertise and allow other people to label you as the go-to authority.
When do you become an "expert"?
You'll be the expert in how you show up but you need to stop focusing so much on trying to be one and figuring out what your title is. I know positioning is important, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself the question, how are other people describing you? Talk about more around what other people are saying about you versus you declaring how awesome you are.
Think about this in the context of your business. Let's say you want to buy something online, where do you go to check and make the decision to evaluate which is the best one you should get? You go straight to the reviews, right? Because it doesn't matter what's in the description or what the company or the seller says about the product, what matters is what the people who have already purchased and are using it are saying. We want the reviews of other people, real customers, real people like us—that's how we look to tell us if something is legit or not.
3 Specific Things to Think About When You Struggle to Your Own Expert Status
1. Own your expert status.
You have the expertise—recognize the things you know, the things you do that come naturally to you and do NOT come naturally to other people. You know your topic more than the average person does. You don't have to call yourself an EXPERT, but you need to know that your expertise is unique and recognize that what you have to offer to each is VALUABLE. That's what being an expert is.
2. A good teacher is a good learner.
The struggle that happens oftentimes in the online space where the guru or the mentor that we follow seems to know so much about everything and then we develop this thought that we too have to be a jack of all trades. But you do not need to know everything in order for you to really own how good you are in the things that you do.
You can be really good at your gifts of what you do and you can still be in learning mode with all the other things. You can be expert status and create incredible value and still be a hot mess in other areas of your life in business. In fact, you can actually suck at a lot of other things and that's totally okay. Those two things can mutually exist.
3) Recognize the difference between humility and self sabotage.
We have a tendency to downplay our strengths and wear humility like a badge of honor but sometimes that humility is no longer humility. It is self sabotage. When you show up in a way that you are so humble that you poop on your own success and your own knowledge to the point where you're actually sabotaging yourself.
Know that when it comes to business, it is not typically the person who knows the most is the most successful one. The value that you bring is your ability to take that knowledge and make it meaningful to other people. Instead of eroding your own confidence because of your inability to accept that you are awesome, why not start accepting the fact that you do know your thing and you can help and serve people.
LISTEN to the full AUDIO of this episode:
Subscribe to Heather’s YouTube Channel here.
Books / Resources mentioned in episode:
LinkedIn 101: Please Stop Calling Yourself an Expert. Instead, Just Do, Justin Bariso
Harvard Business Review: Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified
FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Hey friends! Welcome back to another episode of the Heather Sager show. Today, we're diving into a topic that came up earlier this week when I was inside office hours with my students inside, Speak up to Level up and it was about this problem we all have with the word expert. And maybe you don't have a problem with the word expert, but you've most likely felt this way before where you know that you have a great deal of expertise. You know, you, you know you know things right? And you'd know that your experience is valuable that it can help and teach others yet we tend to second guess ourselves when the moments matter. When you actually need to step them on a sales call and name your price, when you are struggling with not knowing all of the answers, but wanting to adopt the role of being the expert in your industry.
How do you hold those two beliefs of being the learner and the expert at the same time? I just hear it from so many women, women specifically around how they struggle with this idea of needing to be strong and know all the things, but on the inside, they're dying a bit because they don't, they, they still feel like a little girl dressed up in their mom's clothes, like playing adults, hashtag let's play house.
Did you see that as a kid, like let's play house? That was like the activity that we used to do. We also used to always play a game we call general store where we would all pretend that we had our own general store and we'd barter for trade different random items. I think I got really good at bartering for toilet paper. I'm going down a rabbit hole. I had a lot of fun growing up in a house with six children, but I digress. I think a lot of times in business, especially as we're growing in our businesses or in our careers, we have a tendency to shy away from opportunity because we don't feel ready. We don't feel expert E enough. We don't feel qualified enough. In fact, there's statistics that show it came from, I was reading a article on Harvard Business Review because I wanted to look up this specific stat, so let me pull it up for you. This idea that men apply for a job when they feel they meet only 60% of qualifications, but women apply only if they need a hundred percent of them. There is a big difference between how, I mean, generally speaking, right between how women view themselves and their qualifications and there is this general feeling of not enoughness.
You know, I was just chatting with a, with someone this morning, I was on a sales call for a corporate client and she was sharing with me how frustrated she's been by contractors that she's hired in the past, consultant she's hired in the past that just had a tendency to not deliver. And it's interesting because I've had similar experiences in my career hiring others where I don't know, maybe I think you're a little bit like me for you in the show. You have high expectations for yourself and therefore you also have high expectations for other people. And when we think about how we show up on a project, or speaking on a stage, or delivering a piece of content, or putting forth our first digital course, or putting together a group coaching program or even hitting publish on a blog post. When we think about those things, we want it to be not just good, it needs to be spectacular. And if it falls anything short of that, we get really down on ourselves.
Today, I want to talk about that because this constant need to know everything. First of all, that doesn't exist. That's not a thing, but second of all, this constant need to hold ourselves to such a high standard to be such a perfectionist. It will keep you paralyzed in your business because the business owners who are willing to go at it and perfectly knowing they'll make mistakes, knowing that they're going to have to have iterations of their programs, and their products, and their frameworks, and their everything. It's all a constant reiterating. Those are the people who push through.
On the other hand, those who decide that they want to roll out the perfect thing, the polished thing, the exceptional thing, they tend to sit on the sidelines trying to brainstorm and tweak and perfect, and it never gets put out in the world. Let me just tell you this straight out, friend, if you're a perfectionist, which for me, I'm a former, a recovering perfectionist. You can't perfect anything until you actually get it out into the world, until you have to something to perfect. Vain in business is not about getting things perfect. It's about getting things out that are valuable. It's about connecting to your audience and being of service to them, and the more that you keep listening and delivering things with really good intentions, that's when magic starts happening. That's when you could start perfecting how you help people, your processes, your systems as unsexy as that sounds. You can start shifting things and changing things over time, but you have to get started.
Today. I want to start with exactly where you are and chances are if you're listening to show you how the world of expertise and you can call yourself an expert. Most likely you don't because if you're anything like me, I hate the word expert. I hate calling myself an expert and here's why specifically, and actually, I found this really incredible article on LinkedIn that hit exactly my sentiment on this. So I'm going to give a shout out to the author of this LinkedIn article, also, linked in the show notes for today written by Justin Bariso. It says, LinkedIn 101. Please stop calling yourself an expert instead just do this. And in the article, he talks about this idea of the reason why you shouldn't call yourself an expert, and I fundamentally agree with this is because we live in an era where people are skeptical. When businesses say I'm the best, pick me. When a guru, or thought leader, or whatever other word we want to give them, when they call themselves that we inherently do not trust them because you cannot declare your expert status, like that's not cool, bro, like, it just, it feels weird.
So instead you need to allow other people to reference you as the expert. So what you have to do is just do the work show up as the expert by proving it. You'll be the expert in how you show up. Demonstrate your expertise and allow other people label you as the expert, label you as the go-to authority. Demonstrate or talk about you as the person you go to when you need help with insert 'what it is that you do.'
You want to allow other people to call you the expert because we all, I mean, let's just, frame of reference here. This is an example that's way overused, but I'm going to use it today because it makes sense. It's very relevant. You have to think about this in context of your business. When you decide to buy something online, when you decide to figure out a new restaurant to go to, when you're trying to evaluate which product you should get for your kid, where do you go? And I don't just mean a website, but like specifically on a website, or on Google, or on Yelp. Where do you go to make the decision? Straight to the fricking reviews because it doesn't matter what's in the description. It doesn't matter what the company or the seller says about the product. What matters is what the people who actually have purchased it and are using it are saying. We are in a world where we look to other people for their consumer, like behavior, what are they buying? What do they think? Are they happy? Are they not? We want the reviews of other people, real customers, real people like us. That's how we look to, to tell us if this thing is legit or not.
So what I want you to thinking about in this online space, stop focusing so much on trying to be the expert and figure out what your title is and how you, all these things around positioning. And I know positioning is important, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself the question, how are other people describing you? How are other people describing you? And if you were the go-to person for other people, let that be your business cards. Talk about more around what other people are saying about you versus you declaring how awesome you are. I mean, here's the thing I know you're awesome. I know you are. However, if you're the only one who knows it, you can't be a secret that's kept like we have to be talking about it, so I'm digressing here. I had some things I really want to talk to you about today that are going to help you work, work through this.
So there's three specific things I want you to thinking about because I know, especially as women, especially as entrepreneurs who were a lot of hats and we are high achievers, owning our expert status can feel a little uncomfortable because of what I just said when we're like, what are they expert? It feels weird because we know we're not supposed to call ourselves the expert because we wouldn't believe another person calls himself the expert. But coming back to it, stay with me. You have to, number one, own your expert status and I'm going to say that is in own your expertise.
Hear me loud and clear when I say this. I don't want you to not see yourself as an expert. You have expertise. Oh my gosh. We should make this a drinking game, for how many times I say expert, expertise. Somebody send me a message on Instagram and tell me exactly how many times I've just said that because it was really ridiculous, but we are not re-cutting that. We are rolling with this today. So let's talk about this. Okay. Let's go back to it. Own your expertise. I want you to know that you know, a good chunk about your topic. You know your topic.
Let's define what the word expert is. I think when you Google the term expert, let me just write this down, like this is, this is super, super hilarious. Okay, according to Oxford languages, ie., via Google. The word expert is a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of a skill in a particular area or having or involving authoritative knowledge. There's no checklist that says this is what it takes to become an expert. But the fact is, you know, more than other people on your topic. That's what's being an expert is. You know more than the average person on your topic.
Now debate for another day around really what creates expert status versus just kind of knowing about. We're splitting hairs here. What I want you to know is when you show up as an expert, it means that you have confidence that you know what you're talking about. You have confidence that know what you're talking about, and I want you to own your expertise. Know that what you've known. His expert level status. It does not mean you to call yourself an expert, but you need to know that your expertise is unique. The fact that, you know, so much about meditation, the fact that you know so much about nutrition, the fact that you know so much around helping a patient advocate for their own health, the fact that you know so much about strengths, the fact that you know so much about LinkedIn or Instagram or whatever it is that you teach, the fact that you know so much about them is a unique thing. And I know sometimes when you're teaching on that topic, you are often around people who are learning it so their knowledge has increased too and you could forget just how special your knowledge is. I don't want you to forget that. I want you to own it. You have been through a set of experiences in life, you have learned special skills. You have acquired knowledge along the way. There is beauty in that, and I want you to fricking own it because as you're growing your business, a big piece of that is the expert knowledge you've acquired along the way. And chances are, you are downplaying just how incredible you are and what you know and what you can do for others. Just how, just how great it can, can be the value it can create for other people. So I want you to really feel it and be like, yes, I am an expert. And I know that's confusing because I just told you to not call yourself an expert, but these are the voices we say to ourselves, not out loud to other people. You can whisper to yourself, I am an expert. Now demonstrate it in your work. Demonstrate it. When you talk with other people, demonstrate it. When you're on a sales call, demonstrate it when you're on social media. Show up as an expert. You don't have to call yourself one to show that you want.
Second thing that I want to talk about today is this idea that just because you're an expert, forgive me., We're just going to go with that term here. Just because you're an expert does not mean you have to know everything. Let me unpack what I mean by this and why this is really important for you. You see, I was on a call earlier this week with my, actually I was guest teaching inside of a group and one of my students was there. And we were talking about the struggle that happens oftentimes in the online space where the guru that we follow or the mentor that we follow, they seem to know a lot of things. Like they had no their expert area, but they also know a lot about list building, and business, and sales calls, and social media and podcasting and it seems they know so much about everything. Side note, it's because they've done a lot of these things in growing their expert level business. But what we develop this thought that we too have to be a Jack of all trades. We have to be generalists. We have to know everything and do it really, really well. friend, let me tell you, you do not need to be expert status in all these things. You do not need to know everything in order for you to really own how good you are in the thing that you do.
I'm kind of talking a little cryptic nature, so I'm hoping you're following me today. But the example I'm going to give you is my student, Anna and I talked about this. Anna, shout out to you. Anna is a Gallup strengths coach, so she teaches business owners how to really lean in their strengths so they can do more the things that they're best at and effectively delegate the things that are in their natural wheelhouse and feel great about incorporating other people to play in them their natural strengths to build a really thriving business.
And one of the things that we were talking about, Anna, is an incredible coach. She's been building up her coaching business the last couple of years, leaning into one-on-one working with business owners and Anna is learning the online space. She's learning how to do email with the email service provider. She's learning, okay, what are the intricacies of running a new podcast? She's got an incredible show. She launched earlier this last year. She's learning all those things. And one of the things she was struggling with was some times when she's in this learning mode of trying to figure out how to create a do hickey in Headliner for how to promote your podcast, it can feel like, ah, man, like why, why does this not come easy to me? Like why, I should be getting this? Like, it shouldn't be so hard. Why I know nothing dramatize, right? Just because we're learning new things because we're in a new space does not take away from how incredible we are as coaches in this other land.
So what I shared with Anna was this idea about you can be a rock star coach. You can be really good at your gifts of what you do and you can still be in learning mode with all the other things. In fact, you can actually suck at a lot of other things and that's okay and you can be in the mode of learning. You can learn how to do email. You can learn how to do social. You can learn how to do podcasts. You can learn to do whatever skills or tactics you're learning right now. Those two things can coexist. You can be expert status and create incredible value and build if you want really high ticket products and programs for your people, and still be a hot mess in other areas of your life in business. Those two things can mutually exist. They can co-exist. You feel what I'm saying here?
So I want you to really understand that and the reality is good leaders are good learners, so I want you to pay attention to this. If you start feeling like you're good at a lot of different things, and you're like, yeah, don't let that ego go a little too strong because it means that you're no longer learning. Good learners, and I say good or good leaders, good entrepreneurs, they are constantly learning. In fact, it's one of the things I look for in mentors that I learned from. I want to know what skills are they learning? Because I know the entrepreneurs that I follow, they are not great at everything. We might think that at first glance, but we dig in, they're always constantly working on something new. Something that I highly value is one of the, one of the things that I look for in mentors that I follow online.
Okay. So we've talked about owning your expertise. We've talked about a good leader needs to be a good learner. Last thing I want to leave you with today is this idea. Well, I want you to recognize that sometimes if you're feeling a little unsure about your expertise whether or not you are, I hate this term, but we feel it worthy enough, or smart enough, or knowledge enough, or have our shit together enough to be on that podcast or on that stage, or to show up in lives or to show up for that call, or to send that pitch, whatever that is, right? I want you to recognize the difference between humility and self sabotage. Say it again for those of you in the back. Recognize the difference between humility and self sabotage. You don't, especially as women in business, we have a tendency to downplay our strengths. We've a tendency to deflect when it comes to praise, compliments, when things are going really well. We've tend to be like, oh, well it was, it was a really good month because of this or, oh, well that just worked out because of that or, oh, this whole thing. I just did this this week. Now that I realize it, somebody complimented on my hair and I was like, oh my gosh, I just rolled out of bed. I'd actually didn't do my hair at today.
We don't take compliments. Well, we have a tendency to wear a humility, like a badge of honor and I want you to hear me loud and clear. Sometimes that humility is actually not humility. It is self sabotage. I want you to pay attention to this because when you are in this industry that we're in, right, where we're selling our knowledge, and our know-how, and our expertise in a package to help other people. When we show up in a way that we are so humble that we poop on our own success and our own knowledge, we are self-sabotaging. We are cutting ourselves off at the knees, whatever expression you want to use, before we've even got to the party. That was a terrible metaphor, but y'all know I'm committed to try weird metaphors. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. I don't think that one did, but you follow me with what I'm saying here is, have you ever had that moment where you're just, it's no longer humility. You're being too humble to the point where you're actually self-sabotage. Somebody gives you a compliment. You deflect it so much that you're actually hurting yourself. You're actually eroding your own confidence because of your inability to accept that you are fricking awesome. Yeah. Damn. You do look good today. Yeah, you did rock that workshop. Heck yeah, you nailed that podcast interview. You had guessed your students do love you. Your office hours are on fire. People do love your work and know they're not sitting there waiting for you to fall on your freaking face. Maybe look close to home on that one. It's this thing we have is we have this need for feedback, but when we get the feedback and it's positive, it's positive. I'll say that again. But when we get the feedback and it's positive, we don't believe it so we brush it off and it becomes a form of self-sabotage where we start then questioning ourselves, questioning the feedback people give us.
I want you to start accepting the fact that you do know your ish. You know, how to help people. It does not matter on a scale of one to 10, how, like, of all, if we, let's just use this real quick. Okay, imagine for a moment we took all of the people who teach what you teach. Okay. So if you teach Instagram marketing for baker, Let's be very specific. And let's take every single Instagram trainer in the world and then the subset of those who specialize in bakers. I bet you there's a crew of those out there y'all. I want you to imagine those. So think about your niche, what you, who you work with, what you do. I want you to imagine that all this sudden, we rallied up all the people who do exactly what you do and there are other people let me tell ya. And then I want you, I want you to imagine this, this is terrible, but imagine this for a moment that we lined you up from the person who knew the least about the topic to the person who knew the most about the topic. And if we were being, my eyes are like really creepy right now. I have like this little face happening where I'm imagine this light up and like your face told, like mortified, like what we're learning based off our expertise? How are we doing that?
I'm imagining there's some kind of like family feud or jeopardy style game where we figure out who knows more all of these rabbit holes that are not important to conversation, but let's pretend we line them all up based off of knowledge, which tactically speaking based off the definition of being an expert. The person who was at the very, very end of the line, well, one end would be the struggle bus and the other end would officially be the most experty person on the planet, and then there'd be a spectrum of everybody in between. And let me tell you this, when it comes to business, it is not typically the person who knows the most, the most expertiest person of all the expertiest people. That's not typically the person who is the most successful.
So here's what I want you to think about. Let's say that you're actually right in the middle of the pack. Hell, let's say you're even in the bottom third. I can guarantee you are not the first person in line with the least amount of knowledge on the planet. You are in there a bit. You're a little down the line. You might not be far down the line, but you're down the line. When we, why am I telling you this? Why am I imagining this horrible thing of comparing you and your knowledge to other people? It's because of this, you always can learn more. You always can, you can read a book, you can study more, you can tinker in whatever tool it is that you take. You can always learn more. The value that you bring is your ability to take that knowledge and make it meaningful to other people. It isn't about how much you know, what's that amazing quote by Maya Angelou. It's not about how much you know, it's about how much you care, something to that degree.
When you think about owning your role as an expert, owning your expertise. I want you to remember that the expert status is only a piece of it. Your ability to demonstrate compassion and care and truly take the time to understand and serve the people that you serve. That is what truly makes you exceptional. And when you lean into that and you come equipped with really good knowledge, which you do, I don't care how much knowledge, again, that's pretty irrelevant. At the end of the day, clients and customers, they don't want the smartest person. They want the person who can actually help them, which quite frankly, is usually someone who's more in the middle of the pack. That's not based off fact, that's not based off of any kind of study. I'm literally just pulling that out of my butt because it feels, it feels right. That's the worst phrase I've ever said in the podcast, but we're going to go with it and just, here's the thing, that makes, it makes sense. It makes sense. When you think about it. Oh my gosh. I'm cringing around how I'm talking about this topic today. I'm not doing it justice or this is fricking awesome. I wouldn't want you to get off your rocker when it comes to you feeling like you have to know everything. It's not about what you know, it's about what you can do with what you know. Boom. That can be a little Q card. We can use a little quote card we can put online. That sounded a lot better than the weird thing I just said.
Anyways, I say all of this today, clearly this is an unscripted episode. Clearly I'm just speaking from my heart. This was on my mind today. But for those of you who were floating out in this world in this online space, you were in my life. You somehow found your way to the show up of going. I really want people to see me as an expert. I want you to first start seeing yourself as an expert by owning your expertise. I want you to start seeing yourself as somebody who could know a lot and serve a lot and also learn a lot all in the same breath, and I want you to really start paying attention to when your humility is tipping so high that it's actually turning to self-sabotage. When you start seeing these things, when you start owning just how incredible you are and your knowledge and the gifts you have and you hone that into how you can help other people. That's when you capture the role of being an expert, that's when other people start taking notice and they look to you as their go-to person.
I don't know who needed to hear this today, maybe it was you, maybe this one didn't land for you either way. I'd love to hear from you on Instagram. Send me a note and let me know what you thought about the weirdest metaphors you've ever heard today. I always love hearing from you, and this was just one of those unscripted prompt to shows, but as ever we're celebrating, make sure I say this. We're celebrating our two year anniversary of the podcast. This little baby show started as an idea that I have that one day my ideas, my random ramblings and thoughts could help someone somewhere, and how, for me, it was about taking a little leap of courage and saying, okay, instead of just sharing this with a few people that I have coffee with each month, what if I were to, to put this on a platform that more people can hear it. Maybe it'd just be my friends and my family, but maybe some stranger halfway across the world got my podcast in their ears and something that I said made a tremendous difference in their lives. And today we're celebrating two years, 50,000 downloads of the show and I, evidently the ramblings are working, so thank you, thank you so much for continuing to show up each week to get a little sip from the Heather Sager knowledge cup. And hey, if you liked this episode or you find value at any point in the show, would you do me a big solid. Leave a review of the show. It means the world. I read every single one and I love to share and shout you out on Instagram. And also, would you share this episode with a friend, if you feel like maybe they are struggling from that humility and self-sabotage dance we talked about today. Let's give them a little pep, a little pep talk, a little boost to remind them that they too are an incredible expert and they need to share their expertise with more and help us in our mission to change the world. All right, friend, I'll see you on the next episode. Hey, this month we have some pretty exciting things going on, including we have a visibility bootcamp coming up at the end of September. Keep an eye out. If you're not on my email list, be sure to send me a message on Instagram so you can get on the list. We're going to start doing special invites the week, this episode air. So later this week, you're going to start hearing a lot more about a special workshop series I'm doing inside the private Facebook group. It's invite only. And if you would like to be on the list to help you start really claiming your authority status this next year, if you really want to get comfortable and say, how do I communicate in a way that demonstrates the level of the expert that I have, the, the status that I have. How do I, like, how do I take my know-how and, and form it into a way that actually resonates for other people and gets results. How do you actually grow an online business by speaking on stages? Well, let me know. Shoot me a note on Instagram to make sure that you are on that VIP list. It will be a free workshop series we're doing real here real soon and I hope to see you there. All right, friends, see you in the next episode.