Become An Expert
After failing my first exam as a college student (it’s not wise to begin studying for an 8:00 a.m. exam at midnight the night before), I decided to create a “studying process.” By using this process during the rest of college, I ended up graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Johns Hopkins University with a 3.74 GPA. (Less than 1% of college students get inducted into Phi Beta Kappa each year.)
While I definitely worked hard in college, my GPA was not the result of spending 50 hours a week in the library. Instead, it was the result of a very strategic approach to learning and development.
After college, I adjusted my studying process to expand my knowledge quickly on a variety of topics. In this article, you will learn a 4-step process to become an expert on any topic in record time.
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Step 1: Study. Identify three of the world’s top experts on a topic of interest. Then, read a book, attend a seminar, or take an online course by each person. In only a few days or weeks, you will be able to learn what it took each expert many years to discover.
Step 2: Practice. While you will definitely benefit simply from the wisdom of thought leaders, you can’t become an expert on a topic until you practice what you have learned. For example, you can’t become an expert on public speaking just by studying public speaking. You have to practice speaking in public. Similarly, you can’t become an expert on LinkedIn just by studying LinkedIn. You have to practice using LinkedIn. As another example, you can’t become an expert on strength training just by studying strength training. You have to practice strength training. By practicing what you learn through your initial study, you will deepen your understanding of the topic.
Step 3: Summarize. Before any exam in college, part of my studying process was to go through my textbook and class notes and create a concise review sheet of the major ideas and concepts. This forced me to synthesize the key points and to translate the ideas from the authors and my professors into my own words. My summary was also much easier to review right before the exam than a 500-page textbook. So, after you study and practice what you have learned, create a brief summary of your new knowledge. This will expand your learning and leave you with a concise, valuable resource to refer to for years to come.
Step 4: Teach. After you study, practice, and summarize what you have learned, you can take your expertise to an even higher level if you teach your topic to others. You can do this by writing articles about what you have learned, by delivering presentations about what you have learned, or simply by sharing your ideas informally with friends, family, or colleagues. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
Would you like to become an expert in record time?
Follow these four steps for your chosen topic:
- Study three of the world’s leading experts.
- Practice what you have learned.
- Summarize your key findings.
- Teach your new knowledge.
I challenge you to identify a personal or professional topic where greater knowledge would take your career or life to a higher level. Then, work this process over the next few months. The payoff in personal satisfaction and personal or professional growth will be well worth the effort.
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About the author: Pete Leibman is a consultant, speaker, and author who helps leaders and companies thrive. He is the creator of StrongerHabits.com and he’s the bestselling author of Work Stronger; Habits for More Energy, Less Stress, and Higher Performance at Work. Before writing Work Stronger, Pete worked as an executive recruiter at Heidrick & Struggles, a leadership advisory firm who serves the majority of the Fortune 500. In his free time, he teaches one of the largest group exercise classes in the Washington, D.C. area. He has also competed in the Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) World Championships.