I made a decision recently. Despite counsel to the contrary from smart and successful colleagues, mentors and coaches who I respect very much, I’m going to stop referring to myself as an Expert. Why? Because it just doesn’t feel right. In fact, it feels (forgive me) kind of cheesy, meaningless, and inauthentic.
For starters, it seems everyone is calling themselves an Expert these days. Moreover, Expert feels like a rather haughty term, implying I’ve reached some kind of thrilling pinnacle in my career and that I’ve learned all I’m ever going to need to know on a certain topic.
I can confidently tell you I have not — nor will I ever.
No, I’m far more comfortable calling myself a Teacher, Collaborator, Connector, Communicator, and an Ever-Curious, Ever-Fascinated, Ever-Reaching Lifelong Learner; someone who is always questioning, searching, observing, exploring, pushing the boundaries, and evolving as I work to help my readers, clients and audiences Live, Work & Connect at a Higher Level™.
Okay, I realize all this won’t fit on a business card and has some inherent cheesiness to it as well.
Another reason I don’t like the term Expert: it implies I should be paid more due to the number of hours I’ve put into my training. These days the accepted number of hours is around 10,000. (And who made this calculation? Why not 12,473 or 27,071?)
And I daresay the term Expert is used so often and by so many it makes me wonder if it means anything anymore. And if I did reach the designated number hours (at my age, I’m pretty sure I have), do I just say, “Yep, I’m done. All good! No more learning for me?”
What’s more, I could have all those hours and yet I could be a complete Bozo who is totally inept at absorbing, distilling, and then reaching out and engaging others to share the relevance, application, and value of what I’ve learned. What’s kind of Expert would that be?
Nah. I’ll skip the Expert title for now, gradually taking it off all my marketing materials. It just doesn’t feel like me.
Which begs the question of how our titles communicate about us and how they impact how we communicate and connect with others. What do you think? What do you call yourself that really expresses who you are, what you do, and the value you bring to the world? What are your thoughts on the term Expert? Do you use it when referring to yourself? Why or why not? How do you react when people call themselves an Expert?