Expertise by Dr. Robert Gerwig

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Do you know everything?  If you don’t, you probably know some people who THINK they know everything. … On the one hand, we know that we don’t know everything. On the other, we sometimes act as if we do. Right?

I find it amusing that those who THINK they know it all are annoyed by others who THINK they know it all. Ever hear the expression, “it takes one to know one?” If you want to enjoy a good show, get a couple “know-it-alls” together, make some popcorn, and then sit back and enjoy the show, fireworks and all!

The rationale mind knows that we don’t know it all. In fact, the more I learn and experience, the more I realize how little I know. Learn one thing and ten unanswered questions come to light. The “know-it-all” wears an invisible sign that says, “I’m shallow and immature.” The true expert realizes how little they know and how much more there is to discover. It’s a sign of maturity and confidence to accept and acknowledge that we don’t know it all. To ask questions. To seek advice from others. To observe. To learn. To leverage the knowledge, skill, and expertise of others.

Hopefully, you have a network of family, friends, and colleagues that you can leverage. They have expertise you don’t have. Use it. Ask questions. Seek advice. Tap into the expertise of others. A willingness to build a network and leverage it can yield huge dividends. There’s a multiplicative factor at play when we seek the help of others. The world-class leader knows this helps increase their personal productivity as well as improve the quality of their output. Seek expert advice, listen, and apply.

You have probably experienced a situation where you were stuck. You were frustrated. You were trying to do something and it wasn’t working out. It was taking a lot of time and brain power. This often happens when working with computers, tablets, smartphones and the like. You’ve been “stuck” for what seems like hours and someone walks by, sees your predicament pushes a button or makes a couple swipes and amazingly, your problem is solved.

What happened? They had expertise that they applied to your situation. Hopefully you don’t always wait for someone to randomly walk by and offer their expertise. Hopefully you proactively seek good advice, counsel, and expertise. Don’t let pride stand in your way!

A lifelong friend of mine, Russell, is a world-class role-model in this arena. He is intelligent, well-traveled and wise, yet he doesn’t hesitate to seek counsel when he’s getting ready to make a decision or he’s “stuck.” The amazing thing is that many seek out Russell’s expertise, which has been, at least in part, gained by asking questions of other wise people and then listening. Knowing how and where to get expert advice, along with a willingness (and humility) to actually seek it, is exponentially more important than having all the answers. I might add that Russell’s really good at asking the “right” question and taking notes (and gems or pearls) from what he’s heard.

This topic of expertise and counsel came to mind a couple weekends ago while diving with another good friend, Eric. We were on a day trip to a small island south of Cebu called Balicasag and I had showed him some of the pictures I’d taken the week before. He observed (politely) that the white-balance was off. In layman’s terms, the pictures didn’t look right because the colors were off. Eric is a good photographer so I asked him how I could correct the problem. After discussing the camera settings (which were correct), we began discussing the strobe (underwater flash) settings. As it turns out, my white-balance issue was easily corrected by a strobe setting. Thanks Eric!

The learning? Leave pride behind. Ask questions. Seek advice. Listen. Demonstrate curiosity and humility. Show genuine thankfulness. Apply learning. … The picture above is not as clear or colorful as the original image, but you can hopefully get an idea of the richness of colors under the sea. Colors that came to life due to Eric’s expertise and a willingness to seek the counsel of others I learned from Russell.

What advice do you have for me and other readers with respect to leveraging the expertise of others? How do you do it?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]

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