This word “expert” or “authority” can stop us in our tracks, huh?
It makes us lose our nerve to add to the conversation. To participate. To volunteer. To speak up.
But what’s really happening? Our 🐍REPTILE BRAIN is keeping us safe by convincing us:
“They’ll see right through me.” 😱
“I don’t know shit compared to them.” 😱
“Why would anyone care what I have to say, anyway?” 😱
But, Lindsey…what if there is some truth to these questions?! What if I lack the experience? Or I’m a beginner? Or I’m the lowest on the totem pole? Why take up precious air time?
Here’s why: if you’re interested enough to be in “the room,” you have an opinion about it. Otherwise you wouldn’t waste your time, right? We benefit on having diverse voices, like yours, weigh into important conversations and decisions.
And while sharing your EVERY thought about a subject is the LAST thing I’m recommending, I know many of you are scared to share even ONE idea.
Again, your brain will try to fool you into thinking you’ll go from sharing zero ideas to being the person who hogs all the space in the conversation. I assure you, if you’re reading this, you have enough self-awareness to know you don’t want to be THAT person.
Now that I’ve convinced you that you DO have something to add to the convo (and we know you do), how do you go from lurker to contributor? I’m glad you asked! Let’s begin by helping you step into your authority.
1) Start with what comes easy! What are 3 topics you can talk endlessly about, with people you feel safe with?
For me: Gardening, dogs, organizing.
2) Choose one topic to practice with. If I asked you to put together a lunch ‘n learn for this safe group, what topic would you choose?
For me: How to start a backyard garden.
3) Tell us why this topic is relevant to you. How does it relate to your life? Make it human. It’s good to show your humanity!
For me: I have always wanted to grow my own food, but felt intimidated because I didn’t grow up gardening. And I have a tainted track record. I can’t tell you the number of gardens I’ve killed or only ended up with one lone eaten-by bugs bell pepper. #sadpepper
4) Share 3 lessons/ideas you’ve learned and how you learned them. Maybe it’s through your lived experience. Maybe you’re a great researcher and you have some favorite experts.
For me: The three lessons I’d offer up to anyone starting a garden are:
One: Don’t wait until you have your dream garden space. If you have a sunny window, you can grow something to eat. One basil plant counts.
Two: Find a couple of local gardeners in your area and follow them on social media. This is a great way to know what plants grow well in your area, when to sow and direct sow, and how to harvest.
Three: Take a class. Not only will you meet other people who geek out about gardening, but you’ll get the tools you need to be successful. I took a virtual course with Journey With Jill called Dream to Garden and it made all the difference.
5) Be okay with borrowing credibility from others. This is not the same as taking other’s ideas. Borrowing credibility means you find people more experienced than you, highlight their contributions, and give them alllll the credit. Like I did by mentioning Journey with Jill. It’s a win-win because you get associated with them and you promote their work in front of a new audience. I talked all about how to borrow credibility in this post.
6) Now comes the hardest part…sharing what you’ve learned. That’s all expertise is!
Expertise = sharing what you’ve learned about what works. Because you’ll attract other people who care about the topic, you’ll organically grow your expertise. And you’ll know so much more!
A few things to keep in mind:
🌱 There is beauty in being a beginner. And we have a lot to learn from them. In fact, beginners have a hunger to research the best solutions so we want to pay attention!
🌱 There will always be people who know less than you. And those people will miss out when you choose not to share.
🌱 There will always be people who know more than you. Be inspired by them, not intimidated.
The more you practice stepping into your authority, the less weird it’s going to feel. Especially when it really counts… like making the case for a promotion, talking to potential clients/customers, updating your supervisor on what you have to offer. Ya know, things that relate to making an impact 💡 and money 💰.
If you’re feeling stuck on stepping into your expertise, consider joining Promote Yourself Professionally. You can join at anytime! It includes 1:1 coaching, live Q&A Support sessions, and the tools and ready-to-go examples on how to get started with professional self-promotion.