Friday, January 25, 2008

The peer pressure to be an expert

I’m amazed at the ability of retailers to make us believe we can become experts in any field if we just have the right books, the right tools, and maybe an in-store class or podcast to show us how. A quick search on for the word expert turned up everything from cooking to gardening to work working to how to become an expert at being an expert. Become A Recognized Authority In Your Field - In 60 Days Or Less for $60. How to Position Yourself As the Obvious Expert for $25.

So whatever happened to natural ability or affinity for a certain field? What about creativity? What kind of message are we sending to people if we tell them that they can be experts in anything? And if I try something, and for some reason can’t be an expert, does that mean I’m a complete failure? Retailer and products they sell may have us think so.

I ran across a cartoon today on That made me feel a bit better about this unfortunate message, and it gave me a good laugh too. With some clever drawings and short punch lines, they sided with me. Their very clear message: it's okay to be an expert, just make sure the field you choose matches up to your abilities and affinities. No software package is going to replace human ingenuity.

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