Do you think you are an expert? Check again.

Today I took a small training session for a couple of new joiners in my project. The topic I was supposed to cover is an area in which I am supposed to be an expert because I have been working in this area for past two years. But while covering all the topics I realized that I know nothing.

I have been in this job for past two years and I have been the part of a particular sub-team in the project which specializes in a particular type of programs. So with two years of experience, I am supposed to be almost an expert in this particular area. But the last time I actually read all the documentation and nitty-gritty details about this topic was when I joined almost two years ago.

Even though I have not read these details in last two years I have never faced any kind of trouble working with these topics because I had created a working knowledge in my head which I refer to as and when needed. This working knowledge used to make me feel that I know everything, I used to feel that I am an expert. This false sense of expertise has been hurting my career for I don’t know how long because I just realized it was there.

I realized this false sense of expertise today when I was trying to teach/train a bunch of new joiners. I was talking about the topic I am the false expert of and halfway through it I realized I don’t know what I am talking about. This finally made me accept the fact that I am not an expert in any sense and I know nothing. And realizing and accepting this fact was a humbling experience.

“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.”
― Nicholas Murray Butler

Even though I am not an expert but since I had the practical experience of over two years I was still able to explain and clarify all the doubts and concerns that my colleagues had during the session. But after realizing this I have now planned to refresh my knowledge every so often so that I don’t get that false sense of expertise.

Are you an expert?

What is the topic that you feel you are an expert of? And are you really an expert or is it a false belief? Whatever be the case revisiting the basics can never harm you, so go ahead and refresh your knowledge. Go through the basics again revisit those finer details which are really important.

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