No One Can Make You Believe You’re an Expert

Why don’t we just say ‘Thank you’?

Have you ever had someone comment on your expertise or say you are an expert at something? How did you feel? Were you surprised maybe? Did you thank them or did you tell them you have a long way to go?

Old Car
It will do for now!

Your answer to that last question says a lot about your personal view of your own expertise. When we have something that other people like and we get a compliment, for instance, “I like your new car”, we then thank the person. If we have something we think has lesser or no value and someone complements on it we may not feel worthy to accept the compliment. Have you ever had a new used car that was the only thing you could afford to buy? When someone said, “I like your new car” you may have been embarrassed that it was not the class level you want to be at and would answer something like, “Oh, it will do for now”.

What does our mindset have to do with it?

This mindset is the same for our own worth. If we do not believe that we are an expert then no matter what someone says to us we cannot concede the truth without a change in our own perception. Unfortunately in human behaviour it is what we believe in ourselves that comes across to others. Therefore if you want others to know you are an expert you have to first believe you are an expert.

In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, a person only becomes an expert after they have put in over 10,000 hours of work. It is not that ‘practice makes perfect’, it is that ‘practice develops experience’ and with experience comes wisdom and intuition that cannot be had without it.  Just because you have 10,000 hours of time put into something does not necessarily make you feel like an expert. There is a mindset shift that must occur. This mindset must overcome our fear of being seen as arrogant or pompous. In Seth Godin’s recent blog post he goes farther to say that if we do not believe in ourselves the market won’t do it for us.

I have some amazing friends and very talented family members that are very good at what they do. Recently I realized that they spend time worrying about their expert level, their value, and their worth. No matter how many times we have discussed their skills and value – the statements coming from me do not resonate as clearly as if they had come from themselves.

How do we get that mindset?

The concert pianist that steps on stage is not thinking, “I hope they like me”, the motivational speaker does not worry that she will be able to actually motivate people, the world-renown advertising company CEO does not worry if people will find value from their campaigns – they just do it. But they do it with the knowledge that they are very good at what they do. So, how does a person get to that stage of mindset?


Put in your 10,000 hours and build your expertise. If you are not there yet, act as if you are, so that you will become that person. I’m not saying you should lie about what you can or cannot do, I’m saying, live like you are the best at the pieces you are very good at.


Accept that you are good at things and always be thankful for them. Practice having a thankful heart and mind. When someone compliments you your mission is to just say, ‘thank you’. Hold those hesitations and lesser thoughts to yourself for another conversation. Allow that person to get the full effect of the gift they gave you by simple accepting it for what it is, a compliment.


Keep an accomplishment list or daily accomplishment journal. When you recognize your own accomplishments it becomes easier to see what others see in you. For a description of these two exercises see my blog on Accomplishments.


You may have people that will always recognize your expertise, maybe before you do, but not everyone is going to believe you. Constantly evaluate your skills and knowledge. Openly concede your mistakes and build on them to become better at everything you do. Every successful person is just that – a person. You are as worthy to be successful at what you do as they are. Continue to believe in yourself and the numbers of others that believe in you will continue to grow.

(This post is from one of my latest e-zine articles)


  • This is me. I did a few blog posts about this too. No matter how many times I hear someone tell me that i’m the expert or that I am great at what I do, I always downplay it.

    I guess i just don’t like the feeling of people thinking that i’m better than they are. It’s tough to be confident and humble at the same time.

    We have a tendency to downplay our strengths and focus more on our weaknesses. We can excel at one task but instead we concentrate on the tasks we struggle at. This is what we are taught in the school system and it carries on well beyond school age. Until we re-educate ourselves and shift our frame of mind, we will always overvalue our weaknesses at the expense of our strengths.

    For the record, i was introduced as an expert a couple of weeks ago and i was still uncomfortable with it.

  • Thanks for saying that Chris.
    I’ve heard you speak and you confidently come across as an “accepting” expert so it is well hidden if you are feeling that way. And to your content, you are definitely an expert, so celebrate it – I think you could hold your own in a conversation with Seth.
    So to have that confession from a person like you that others would immediately accept as an expert helps us all know we are normal when we think that way. What separates the successful experts from the not-so successful experts is how we act on our feelings.
    There is certainly a whole other conversation on reprogramming our beliefs that we could go into, but the premise is, if you believe it long enough, it will become true. So believe in yourself and you will come to know you are an expert, as other already do.

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