Are you an expert in your line of work?
I hope all of you answered "yes," since almost anyone in business can be considered an expert.
You heard me right.
If you simply know a bit more than the next person (and in some field I guarantee that you do), you are an expert. Your expertise can be anything from doing statistical analysis ... to copy writing ... to search engine optimization ... to...well, you get the idea.
And the best part is that in today's digital age, you don't have to keep your expertise a secret. The online world has made it possible for anyone to display their expertise via blogs and various social media platforms.
With that being said, expertise can only get you so far. Another ingredient that goes hand-in-hand with expertise is confidence. Yep, regular, tried and true confidence. Mix expertise with a generous dash of confidence and I guarantee your talents will shine. However, if either one is missing, you'll either be full of hot air, or overflowing with knowledge that few will be able to appreciate.
I especially like how Tony Schwartz, President and CEO of The Energy Project and the author of Be Excellent at Anything: Four Keys to Transforming How We Work and Live, defines confidence in a recent Harvard Business Review piece:
"Confidence equals security equals positive emotion equals better performance".
Don't think for a moment that confidence and expertise are outside your reach. The final ingredient is practice.
Keep in mind that you won't suddenly be fully articulate and adept at writing without a good deal of hard work. As Schwartz states in the HBR article, "Deliberate practice will almost always trump natural aptitude."
I was struck by this the other day when I heard an NPR interview with Rep. Gabby Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman, recovering from a major brain injury after being shot. Giffords, who is re-learning how to speak, was still able to give her nurse, who was preparing for a media interview, some advice picked up from her years before the public eye. Her two words of advice: "practice, practice."
I can't reiterate those two words enough. Although someone may seem to be a polished performer or speaker, keep in mind that years of hard work and practice are responsible for that.
Of course, one must be disciplined to practice. It's easy to give up and say you can't master a something. That you just don't have what it takes or it's too difficult to pull off. In reality though, you can go further than you think you can if you continue to learn and practice.
How have you found that practice improves your performance? I'd love to hear from you.
This post initially appeared in a slightly different form on the FastCompany blog
In the "good news" department, we are honored to have been named One Of The Top 50 Women on Twitter. Kudos to Cheryl Burgess and Tom Pick for creating this.