Expert status is what allows writers, speakers, and performers to do what they love to do—and get paid to do it. No one starts as an expert, but anyone can get there.
They say 10,000 hours of studying any subject can make you an expert in that topic (and you're welcome to try that), but for the average person, the path to expert status is actually much simpler.
I still remember when I first ran across the word “Bitcoin” in early 2011. A friend had mentioned the term on Facebook, but I had no idea what they were referring to. I was curious, so I googled the word and spent the next half hour reading a couple of forum posts and blog articles. Once I understood the basic premise of it, I called my roommate to explain this strange new idea I'd come across.
Immediately, he had a few important questions. Questions like, “But who created it?” and “How does it work?” I didn't know, but I promised to find out, and that started an accidental journey towards expert status in Bitcoin & other cryptocurrencies.
What began as me satisfying my curiosity led to a growing platform I wouldn't have thought possible. Throughout that experience, I learned a lot more than the fundamentals of digital currency. The most powerful lesson I learned was that anyone can become an accidental expert, as long as they're willing to make three commitments.
1. Commit to wonder
Look at the world around you with open eyes. If you find something interesting, make a mental note about it—better yet, write it down. Once you commit to wonder & curiosity, you will notice patterns, pictures, & stories that you never saw before. First, observe them, but each time you find something you'd like to learn more about, make a note (I use Evernote for this).
2. Commit to focus
Once you open your mind to your surroundings, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. If you narrow your focus, you're more likely to sustain your wonder & curiosity. Periodically revisit the list of topics you're interested in and narrow them down, focusing on a select few. Prioritize your interests based on what you're most interested in right now, but then focus on that interest for a few weeks or months.
3. Commit to curious pursuits
If you don't make time to delve deeper into your interests, you'll never get more than surface-deep knowledge. I theme my days, so I've set aside Tuesday evening for “curious pursuits.” That gives me the structure of a time commitment, with the flexibility to research and learn whatever topic I'm focused on. A few months ago, that was sleep. Last month, that was WordPress & CSS.
When I first started studying Bitcoin, it seemed nobody but my roommate cared what it was. Now that the digital currency is all over the news & social media, however, I get asked questions about it all the time. I've been interviewed by local media, paid to speak on the topic, and people now refer to me as a so-called “Bitcoin expert.”
If you want to become an accidental expert in anything, commit to wonder, focus, & pursuits of curiosity. Only then will your interests drive your passion and set you up for success.
Question: If you could become an expert at some subject or skill, what would that accomplish for you?