How Expertise Can Undercut Your Career

How Expertise Can Undercut Your Career

After devoting ten or fifteen years of their life to an occupation, many people become expert in the accomplishment of its daily tasks.  They take pride in their work and perform it flawlessly.  They are masters of their field, and they believe they are doing their best.  They aren’t.

People can acquire deep expertise in a field, but not be working at their talent.  It’s like making it to the big leagues in baseball, but not becoming the base runner or hitter our fielder they have the capability to be.  Only the application of their talent will enable them to achieve that peak level of performance.

So, how do you acquire talent?  You don’t.  You find it within yourself.  All of us are born with talent – it is an attribute of our species – but very few of us recognize it without some self-discovery.  And, that’s where a lot of us go wrong.

In the past, I’ve counseled Career Activists to avoid the misguided paean to “work at your passion.”  Loving what you do isn’t sufficient to sustain a viable career.  The same is true with expertise.  Being highly skilled isn’t enough to provide a rewarding career.  Only talent is.

Why?  Because talent represents the intersection of passion and expertise.  It is your inherent capacity to excel when you work at what you love to do AND do well.

What does that mean as we manage our careers?

We must resist jobs that tap only one or the other of those two essential components AND we must find ways to express and experience BOTH of those components in our daily tasks.  Take those two steps and you’ll increase both the paycheck and the satisfaction you bring home from work.

Thanks for reading,
Peter