It seems that everyone is an expert these days, amiright?! Scroll through your LinkedIn contacts and you'll find boatloads of connections who have positioned themselves as experts in their field. And who can blame them? After all, when we need advice, who do we want to consult? The experts!
When I think about experts, I think about people who are the best at what they do. They have experience, knowledge, and they’ve gotten results. But, if everyone’s purportedly an expert, to whom shall we direct our precious time and attention?
It’s so often the case that the folks who ought to be considered experts are too modest to own the title or are just generally disinterested in promoting themselves. Or, worse, they’re trapped by everyone’s favorite pop-psych malady dujour: imposter syndrome. (shudder)
What I want to explore with you today, though, is how we are all experts. And I don’t mean that in an everyone-gets-a-trophy sort of way. What I'm saying is that we all are experts in our own brands of crazy.
And, let’s face it, not all expertise is productive.
For instance, I am highly skilled at getting people to like me. I do this by being insufferably agreeable and overly accommodating. Friction is the enemy and harmony is the goal. I have a very high success rate and this expertise has generally served me well. However, all my fellow people-pleasers know that this skill set comes with multiple pitfalls including, but not limited to: ignoring your own needs, avoiding important issues, and enabling negative patterns, to name a few.
All of this happens quite subconsciously. But it happens nonetheless.
If you had to 'fess up, which less-than-helpful tendencies would you cop to? Like, if the topic were ______________ (fill in the blank), you could write the book.
Maybe you, like so many other nonprofit leaders, have achieved "expert status" in the following areas:
- becoming a task master and taking down to-do lists with a vengeance,
- not rocking the boat, even if it means going against your better judgement,
- doing more and more with less and less, because everyone knows you always deliver.
On the surface these are great skills and qualities like these are required of most nonprofit leaders...but they also come with a price. Specifically, these three "talents" can cause you to: ignore the big picture and avoid making strategic decisions, lose your voice and let others take advantage of you, and develop unsustainable work habits that burn you out.
These may not be your exact expert-status hangups but the point is that not everything we’re good at is useful - to ourselves or to others. Doubling down on the “way I am” or the “way I always do things” or even “the way I’m expected to be” without considering whether or not those skills are actually helping us (live well, perform well, feel well, etc) will have a destructive effect over time.
Take a moment to reflect upon the good, the bad, and the ugly skills in which you take pride. They are #skillz, for sure, but do you really want them?
Some skills are worth honing, however. Like becoming a better board member. My latest blog details a list of eight steps that will help nonprofit board directors become more effective partners with their organizations. Check it out here or share it with a board member you respect.
How to Be A Great Board Partner (In 8 Easy Steps)
And for your listening pleasure, here's Alanis Morisette teaching you all the skills that nobody wants - in 2004's Eight Easy Steps: