Some people are lucky enough to figure out what their talent is early on and dedicate themselves to perfecting it and making a living out of putting it into practice.
Some individuals may take longer to figure out where their strengths lie, but there is also a considerable percentage of those who never go on and explore their true calling or simply learn new skills just because they think they are not talented enough.
While some level of talent certainly plays a role, there are other factors, such as hard work, dedication, the ability to think outside the box, and so on.
In other words, if you think you don’t possess a certain talent, that doesn’t mean you can’t master the desired skill. We are willing to argue that anyone can pretty much learn anything, if they put in enough hard work and approach the matter in the right way.
How to Become an Expert in Any Field
While there is no exact formula to master every skill, there are some general guidelines that you need to stick to if you want the increase your chances. Here are 7 steps you need to follow if you want to become an expert, regardless of your area of expertise.
1. Figure out What You Want to Become an Expert at
There are two different ways of going about this. If you already possess an appreciable amount of knowledge in a certain area, you can choose to build upon your existing skill set and become an expert. This approach can save you tons of time as it won’t take you a long time before you reach the next level.
If you would like to master a skill that is different than your current strengths, the first thing you need to do is to establish precisely what skill you wish to master.
We suggest you pick something that will spark your interest and imagination into high gear, something you will become obsessed with, so that the desire for mastering it is much stronger than the notion of having to put in endless hours of work and frustration.
2. Don’t Let the Term “Expert” Intimidate You
While having a PhD in some field would certainly qualify you as an expert, that doesn’t mean you can’t be one without it. In fact, there are plenty of areas where formal education doesn’t mean much, or where there simply is no need or possibility for it.
Approaching a skill believing that formal education is the only way to go, is the wrong way of looking at things. Being an expert is dependent on your performance, not your degree.
If you are able to reach a level of skill that puts you in the top 5% of the population (not hard to do), that makes you an expert. Being an expert is a relative thing because, even though you may not be the ultimate authority on a particular subject, you are still an expert when compared to a beginner who you can teach a thing or two.
3. Focus Only on the Next Step
While keeping your eyes on the prize and keeping the bigger picture in mind is great advice for most things in life, it is completely inapplicable for skill mastery.
If you want to become a pro at anything, there are numerous things you need to learn, try and put into practice, so the prospect of having to go through all of those steps can seem a bit discouraging, or downright impossible.
However, the wise thing to do would be to only focus on the next step at hand and worry about that one. Moreover, start small and focus on just one thing in particular. It may feel like you’re progressing faster by tackling several things at once, but it’s just an illusion. Learn things separately, and then figure out how the pieces fit together.
4. Realize that Talent Will Only Take You so Far
While a talent or a predisposition for something is sure to make the entire process smoother and more effortless, that doesn’t mean you are going to automatically become an expert with time. Just to give an obvious example: not everyone who is 7 feet tall goes on to become a basketball player.
Arguably more important is your willingness to learn and to invest a significant chunk of your time in the process. You can eventually catch up with someone who’s more talented, in terms of knowledge, but they will never be able to catch up with you if they are doing nothing to move their skill set forward.
5. Only the Right Kind of Practice Makes Perfect
Or, practice makes perfect, but only up to an extent. If you are always constantly trying to improve by doing the same over and over again, you will raise your skills to a certain level, after which you will plateau, and become unable to progress further.
It’s like when fitness buffs start to stagnate because they fail to change their routine or increase weights and as such never get any stronger or bigger.
Practice which focuses on singling out your weak points for the purpose of making them your strong suits and which leads towards the achievement of a goal is what makes perfect, and what will make you an expert.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
One of the biggest obstacles most people will need to get over is their fear of making a mistake and being wrong. It’s hard to blame anyone for being afraid to make a mistake, because we are taught all throughout our education and life that mistakes are bad.
In fact, we are penalized for our mistakes. You pick the wrong answer on a test, you get a lower grade. You make a mistake at work, you get fined, suspended, or even fired.
However, making mistakes is an integral part of the process if you are looking to become an expert in anything. If you are making them, that means you are trying. Sure, it’s nice to get it right from the first try, but that won’t always be the case, so be prepared to be wrong and to be ok with it.
7. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help
Relying on the Internet and books is necessary, as well as putting everything you have learned into practice, if you want to become a pro, but even that has its limits. One of the biggest shortcuts you can take in terms of becoming an expert is to ask somebody else who is an expert for help. They have been there and done all of the things you are doing now, so they can share some advice, as well as their knowledge.
More important, though, is their ability to provide you with constructive feedback and point you in the right direction. That way, you will be able to stay on track at all times, instead of meandering aimlessly until you are able to find your way back.
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One of the most important things you need to take away from this is that becoming a pro is not something that is reserved for the chosen few. While saying that you can do anything you put your mind to is a cliché, it is nearly 100% true. The most important thing is not to give up. Once you’ve hit that first elusive goal, you won’t be able to stop