Coaching with and for Experts: An Expert’s Note

It’s not a new thought, to me or in the general human universe, that the more one knows, the less one knows. Personally, it has applied to and has proven true in a handful of subjects I’ve dove into head first throughout my life: languages, sports, photography, making terrible puns, etc.

einstein

A similarly senile phenomenon tends to take place if you kick around the block long enough: being regarded as an expert. Which usually happens to be the approximate point where my personal impostor syndrome kicks into gear. The logic is impeccable: an expert is “a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area” (ah, the irresistible delectability of “authoritative” – more on that in the next pos ); at the same time, “the more one knows, the less one knows”, hence heading in the opposite direction of the traditionally defined “expert”.

merriam-web
Excerpt from the entry of the word “expert” in Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
oxford
Excerpt from the entry of the word “expert” in Lexico powered by Oxford. This is the definition that comes up the first in Google search.

 

However, the definition of the noun “expert” seems to imply the static nature of the knowledge or skill attained by the expert. A destination. A sweater. You acquired it, or better yet, made it yourself, and now you have it. Maybe you even get complimented on how well it suits you. Whereas the contradicting formula appears to imply the constant expansion (of the knowledge-skill out there) and contraction (of knowledge-skill perceived to be “obtained”) of universal proportions, complete with black holes and 11th-quarking dimension. Hence, a process.

Speaking for myself here. Maybe a you out there obtained the Holy Grail of the Theory of Everything. Go pour some drink of choice in it and let me have my process.

Monty Python Holy Grail
Screenshot from the Holy Grail by Monty Python

If we were to zoom in at any given point in time on a single individual on the knowledge-skill continuum and froze that point so we can study it, how do we define if one is an expert in the traditional definition? So far it seems it would be by comparing their knowledge-skill level to everyone else’s on that continuum at that point in time, relative to the knowledge-skill volume which, at that point in time, includes the “we know what we know”, “we know what we don’t know”, “we know what we suspect we don’t know” and “we don’t know what we don’t know”.  Of course we can have smaller circle experts, and larger circle experts.  More importantly, however, what does that mean and matter?

Does that mean an expert gets to authoritatively wield their Comprehensive Sharpened Opinions in one hand with the trusty Shield of Facts in the other? Does that mean that others are to accept their words as One Universal Truth? Conversely, is it conducive to the ultimate development of an individual do disregard the experts? Isn’t everyone an expert relative to their own development continuum?

Is Simone Biles an expert in gymnastics? How about the judges who give her scores without being able to pull off a single skill from the top of her collection (side note: this is an unconfirmed guess, but I feel rather safe stepping out on that limb)?

Is Stephen Hawking an expert in cosmology? Is it possible there are other comparably brilliant minds who didn’t happen to rise to the spotlight?

Again, conversely, how many “experts” are out there who have their own podcasts, blogs, publications, workshops, agendas, etc, etc?  One might think everyone is an expert.

What about being an expert relative to one’s own development journey? You know, the whole my today vs my yesterday?

Now we’re getting somewhere. It’s perceptional. Subjective. And, in our information age, far less definable or reliable. What’s even more eye-opening and liberating, it doesn’t matter. In an age when everyone can be and probably is an expert on something within however small or large circle of humans, even for themselves, it doesn’t matter. It’s like back in the early nineteen hundreds when the first cars just started to make their appearances, owning a car was a big deal; fast-forward to now when it’s not unusual for a small ‘murican family to own 2-3 cars. Not a huge deal.

What IS a huge deal, it is the humanity’s declining (or for some portion – lack of) ability to doubt and to discern. I’ll say that again: Doubt and Discern. Note, that these are drastically different from Disregard and Diss.

Doubt leads to fact checking and research, and Discernment helps sift the incoming information and separate the wheat from the chaff. To foster and retain independent thought and will, one must never stop questioning, must keep sharpening the mind’s eye through continuous discernment.  Provided this is what one wants. If one is happier to baaaah along, who am I to stand in the way of their happiness?

sheepies
A pastoral scene along West Highland Way in Scotland. http://www.natalia.photography

And like that, we have finally arrived at the beginning of the post about Coach Europe that happened in Scotland in 2019.

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