becoming an expert (part two)

This is our first time with Kyeli posting part one of a two-part post and me posting the other half. It’s really fun!

Kyeli gave an awesome overview about becoming an expert, and the three points I want to drill down on are:

  1. confidence
  2. empowerment
  3. how to actually do it


We’re not advocating lying about your knowledge or your level of expertise. That would be a pretty silly thing for us to advocate, since we’re all about that authentic communication stuff. What we are advocating is learning enough to be confident.

Take, for example, Kyeli’s shoulder and wrist injuries that she incurred when she was hit by a car. We felt overwhelmed and afraid, because the other guy’s insurance company was really mean to Kyeli, and the first attorney we went to was negative and insensitive. We felt like we were all alone, surrounded by tons of people who were either against us or didn’t care about us at all. Since the situation was so stressful for us, we procrastinated for months. Then one day, we had a conversation about it and figured all these things out — we figured out why it was stressing us out so much. And to fix the problem, I became an insurance claims expert. Sure, I’m not the same caliber of expert as someone who’s been on both sides of the claims process, I’m not the same caliber of expert as someone with a law degree, but these things are not as complicated as they’re made out to be. They’re made out to be complicated so that the people who know the things can charge you money. But the point is that I didn’t need to be that high caliber of expert. I only needed to be expert enough to get the job done, to feel confident, and to be empowered.


When you don’t know anything about a particular subject, it’s easy to fall into the victim mentality. “Oh no, bad things are happening to me, and I don’t know what to do about them because I don’t understand what’s going on!” That leads to a vicious circle of negative feedback and beating yourself up. In the case of the auto accident, we felt like victims (in more than the obvious sense of Kyeli being hit by a car) because we felt like everyone was screwing us over. Bad things were happening to us, and we felt powerless to do anything about it. But then when I became an expert in insurance claims, the tables turned. Now that we knew what to do, we were empowered. And the instant we felt empowered instead of feeling like victims, we took action, and stuff started getting done. Not only that, a huge amount of stress was lifted from us! Even if the other guy’s insurance agent tries to rip us off, we know what to do now, and so we’re far less worried than we would be if we were uninformed and unempowered.

How to actually do it

I usually start by googling lots of stuff related to the topic. I open tons of tabs from all 10 of the first page results, and follow any links that look interesting. I write up a report on what I’m learning, because I learn more effectively if I imagine teaching the material to someone else. Writing a report does that for me. Sometimes, that’s enough. Some people flip out at the idea of trusting anything you read on the internet, but if I read it on a bunch of different sources that aren’t obviously copied and pasted from the same place, I’ll usually believe it. If I’m doubtful, I’ll tack on “urban legend” or “false” or “myth” or “hoax” or “better than” to my search string and see if anything comes up.

That’s often not enough, however. To become an insurance claims expert, I paid a hundred bucks to sign up for a web site created by a higher caliber expert. To become a self-publishing expert, I joined the Self-Publishing Yahoo group, and asked a bunch of questions. The people there were very helpful and informative. I also bought and read a couple of books on self-publishing. But by the time I read one of the books, I already knew two-thirds of the material from my web research. I could have practically written that book! The bar to being an expert is far lower than we’re led to believe.

Next time you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed because a bunch of things are happening to you and you don’t understand what’s going on, consider becoming an expert. You’ll feel confident and empowered, you’ll get rid of a bunch of worry and stress, and you’ll get stuff done.

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