This touches an arena that I feel rather passionately about. The attitude of expertise that says “I’m the head authority on this and do not need to learn anything else.” “No one like you could possibly teach me something about the world I’m already an expert in.” This attitude in life does not operate from a place of strength. It makes you weak.
This is especially dumb in leadership roles. And it pretty much rejects assistance altogether. If you’re an expert in parenting, why read books on the subject? If you’re an expert in marriage, why ever consider counseling or a “marriage building” event? If you’re an expert in education, why explore new ways to reach a struggling student or improve the educational experience for everyone? If you’re an expert in business, why consult a coach? Why do anything to push your current boundaries? Yada. Feel like you never get any help? Umm, maybe check yourself here.
I’ve seen it in religious as well as philosophical circles. It’s present in the educational system. Even witnessed it to my surprise in the field of mathematics. And it’s so prevalent in politics (what I call the new religion) today. The idea in general that my way is the right way. Or my way is the only way. There is nothing else outside of that. It’s like being in a cage and it can become a difficult barrier to break through.
This doesn’t just plague leadership roles. Ever know someone who is an expert in everything, even in fields they’ve never touched? I’m reminded of a conversation with someone once about selling the home they’d lived in for 25+ years. The owner voiced many concerns over the idea and work she wasn’t sure might need to be done or even the paperwork involved. “Have you talked to a real estate agent? They could really help you know what you need to do and talk to you about the market right now,” I said. “No,” she said, “I already know everything I need to know about my house and this neighborhood. There’s nothing worthwhile an agent could ever tell me.” Seriously?
In my mind, this type of mentality is the very source of division and stagnation. There is wisdom and growth at the center of many approaches and views. Thank goodness for the experts in my life who can give me other viewpoints and ways of seeing things. I am not eternal enough to contain all the truth and insight of the universe.
I have expertise, experience and a perspective that is very useful in many ways. But it ain’t everything. No one’s is.