While in the shower, I was struck with a thought: some of my biggest successes in my career have been educated guesses that I often preceded by saying "I'm not the expert, but..."
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that expertise has gotten in my way as much as it has helped me. The more I see myself as an authority or master of a topic, the more likely I am to overlook the "small" details that either have a huge impact or bring the most joy.
For a long time, I thought I was destined to go into a PhD program to become the leading expert in the field of Cather Studies. Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that as an expert in Cather Studies, I'd be devoting my career to researching and writing for the sake of other experts. I fell in love with Cather's work because I read My Ántonia at a time when I was a confused, scared kid who didn't understand his place in the world and her book helped me do it. Her work was powerful to me because I was not an expert; I was her audience.
The more I've reflected on this, the more I've seen instances of one's expertise getting in their way, and it's a subject I want to continue to unravel.
How can we simultaneously become experts while remaining enthusiasts? How can our knowledge and skills get to significant depths without losing their sparkle?
Your input on expertise will help me to continue to think and write about these questions, and is greatly appreciated.