My world is somewhat divided these days – I have a group of people who are bloggers and online entrepreneurs, and then my “real life” friends and family, who struggle with understanding what I actually do. I feel lucky to have both perspectives because undoubtedly, each faction sees different things when we discuss new business ideas. The biggest difference between my friends’ perspectives is their take on knowledge and information sharing.
In the online space, people often share their personal opinions, their experiences, their knowledge. Entrepreneurship, particularly online, is vastly about freedom – going after your own vision, delivering information and content the way you want to provide it, and at the core, believing that you have value to add to people. And then it is up to the audience whether the information shared resonates or not.
Strangely enough, some of my offline friends tend to be in a state of “this person knows more/best/better than you – why don’t you listen to them.” Every time I hear that “advice,” I cringe a little, followed by a snarky response (in my head usually), “If that person/you knows so much or disagrees with what I have to say, they/you should start your own blog.”
Personal snark aside, I used to believe the same thing – and I know that many of my clients question their own strengths and knowledge all of the time.
Why do we believe that someone else knows better than we do?
We put these barriers around our limitations and experiences without even realizing it – not applying for a specific job because you question your scope of skills; not throwing your hat in the ring for a promotion because someone else has seniority; or even deferring to someone else’s idea even though you know that you have a great idea/solution.
It wasn’t until I stepped out of a traditional corporate job and found a group of online entrepreneurs, that I realized I had been limiting or quieting my own knowledge-base. Saying things like, “I can’t write a book because I haven’t honed my writing skills like one;” or “I can’t start my own business because who would want to pay me?”
I forced myself to declare that not only am I knowledgeable, but I also have great value to add to others. No, it’s not 100% inclusive, nothing ever can be, but I have subject matter expertise and so do you.
You do not have to be an online business owner or blogger, to own your expertise and stop looking to others to be the experts. We no longer live in a world where Father Knows Best or where there is only one right way to go about things. You are just as much an “expert” as the next person, perhaps just in a different way.
For example, just last week a family member wanted to connect me with the head of HR for XYZ Company, saying, “I think you could learn so much from her. I mean, she’s been doing her job there for 20 years and is obviously successful since she’s a senior leader.” Hmm… I am always excited to meet new people in the field, but the purpose of the introduction was so she could tell me how wrong my perspective is. Never mind the many, many years of my own experience doing the same thing, nor the fact that part of the PROBLEM with HR (and many other departments), is some of the people who have been doing the same job for that long and have lost all innovative thought; I need her guidance and experience to improve my business. Huh?
Could I learn something new from her, yes – absolutely. She has had different life and work experiences than I have, so there is no doubt that I would walk away with new nuggets and insights. But guess what – she would learn from me as well.
Stop questioning your own knowledge and expertise. Stop valuing only what others’ expertise means, and start realizing that others’ don’t always know best. YOU know some things yourself, and I encourage you to bask in that knowledge, particularly when you have a big adventure ahead of you.