Home / I Want to Abolish the Word “Expert”

I Want to Abolish the Word “Expert”

lolcatexpertI recently read Amber Naslund’s blog post called “Are We Really Just ‘Students’?” Her solid argument in the post is that as professionals in any field, we should abandon ever calling ourselves “students.” Here’s her rationale:

But we’re doing ourselves, our industry, and the business world a disservice if we all sit in wonder and awe of our role as “students” instead of looking at this as an evolution in our professional skill set – and tearing into it with practical, applicable gusto accordingly. So can we stop excusing our ignorance and our learning curve by calling ourselves “students”? Please, yes, learn. But learn by doing. Business doesn’t need students. They need professionals actively honing new skills and putting them into practice. See the difference?

I agree with Amber in that businesses don’t need students. But I’d like to go to the other side of the spectrum:

I don’t think we should use the word “Expert.” Replace it with “Practitioner.”

By definition, the word “expert” is relatively harmless: “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority: a language expert.

But as a society, we’ve taken to thinking of experts as infallible beings in specific areas. The idea that any person is infallible is as ridiculous as it is wrong. If you’re an expert, you shouldn’t be able to be proven wrong, yet experts are proven wrong constantly.

How is it that a meteorologist can be wrong 75% of the time about the weather, but still be considered a weather “expert?” How is it that a mathematician can be considered an expert in the field if his/her theorems are proven wrong? How can anyone be a “Leading Expert?” Isn’t being an expert enough of a lead?

Given that I am in marketing, my chosen profession perpetuates the notion that I’m trying to eliminate in this post. I understand that. But as a society, we’ve come to seek out “The Expert” or “The Source” or “The Best _____.” And why? Maybe you can answer this question.

We are all practitioners, not experts.

There is no one way to do anything. There’s no one way to hit a baseball. There’s no one way to bake a cake. There’s no one way to send an email. So how can there be experts? We’re all practicing our professions to get better at what we do, learn new things, and elevate our careers. But the bottom line is we’re practitioners. Nothing more, nothing less.

No experts. No students. Just practitioners. And that’s okay with me.

How about you?

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