We are All Experts in Something

There’s a quote that is often attributed to Albert Einstein that says, “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  The truth is that my main man Albert never said or wrote this.

Despite the fact that quotes you see on the internet are rarely attributed properly, the concept is still true.  We’re all geniuses, experts, pros, savants, or whatever word you want to throw out there to describe your grandeur.

The problem is that many of us have been shoved into a neat little box that society says we should fit in, and we aren’t able to fully flex our creativity and expertise.

TEDxBillings says to break out of that box, hone that skill, and share it with the world.

Three Steps to Discovering Your Expertise

When we’re young, we explore our wild side.  We just do what we love doing.  Nearly every kid out there has such a vivid imagination that they believe they are entirely unstoppable no matter what they set out to do.

But then they’re told they can’t.

We’re “coached” and “encouraged” to move into careers that are socially acceptable.  Teens are told they’re good with numbers, so they should be in finance, accounting, or an engineer.  People skills are pushed into sales.  Organizational skills into management stuff.  Wrap them up in a neat little box so they don’t cause a scene.

But as Laurel Thatcher Ulrich says, “Well behaved women seldom make history…”  So here’s how you can break out of the box, and find your expertise.

Step One: Unlearn What Society Taught You

To really figure out your passions and figure out what you’re awesome at, you have to basically unlearn what you’ve been taught.  You don’t have to fit into that neat little package that people think you should be in.

Instead, understand that every skill you have is something that most people don’t have.  Most of our skills are based around something we like doing.  So figure out that passion that lead to the skill, and then how you can exercise that skill to become an expert.

Step Two: Determine How to Use Your Skills for Good

Our skills and talents are worthless if we don’t use them to help create a better world.  Fortunately, this isn’t as hard as it seems.  We don’t all have to be movers and shakers, but we all have to do better.

There’s almost no such thing as doing neutral.  If we aren’t doing evil, we’re doing good and vice versa.  So, even if your skill only lights up one life, you’re on the right track.  Think of it like cleaning up the park.  If you pick up one piece of garbage, you did more than nothing and a lot more than littering.  You don’t have to clean the entire park; we all just have to do a little bit of good.

Step Three: Practice It

Now that you have your talent, and you know how to do good with it, practice it.  They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill.  But I bet you’ve put in a lot of time already.  And you don’t have to master it to be an expert; you just have to be better than most.

To be better than most, you have to put in about 20 hours of practice.  20 hours, and you’ll be far better than your peers.

Think about it.  What if you studied a foreign language for 20 hours?  What if you painted for 20 hours?  What if you studied how to code for 20 hours?  Most people aren’t putting in one hour; you’re blowing them out of the water.

Share that Expertise with the TEDxBillings Community

TED and TEDxBillings are all about ideas worth sharing.  It’s, like, our whole philosophy or something.

The reason those ideas are worth sharing is because someone thought outside of the little box society shoved them into.  They figured out how to do good with that skill, and they practiced it.  Now, they’re sharing it with like-minded people who can either support them, or do it alongside them.

What can you do that’s worth sharing?