If you are going to run a business, you need to be an expert. An expert is really just someone who is trusted enough to lead. To be trusted enough to lead others and to lead innovation requires ability, results, and confidence. If you are not an expert, no one cares what you think, and no one will follow you.
Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks who encourages everyone to learn to sell, knows that if you are an expert, you will have a distinct advantage over most people. Cuban says: “One thing we can all control is effort. Put in the time to become an expert in whatever you’re doing. It will give you an advantage because most people don’t do this.”
Yet, once you think you are an expert, that is the moment you aren’t one. Once you feel like you have arrived is when you stop learning, stop growing, and soon others are more expert than you. That is no way to succeed in business or life.
To become an expert, learn from the experts. Follow these 5 steps to becoming and staying an expert in your field:
Dedicate yourself to quality.
You are remembered for what you do and how you make people feel. Everything you deliver must create the emotions and results that you want to be known for. Steve Jobs, the greatest emotional product creator of all time, said: “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”
When I first started selling software, I learned quickly that only way to win trust was to first have a solid product, something you truly believe in. That is why it is important to master the details. A better product, a better service, a better experience will eventually rise to the top.
Fail, fail often and fail fast.
I used to work for a large London-based commodity trader. The main lesson I learned was that not every deal works out. By paying attention to the deals that did work and the ones that failed, I learned to notice patterns.
The most successful author in the world also believes in failure: “Failure taught me things about myself that I could have learned no other way,” said J.K. Rowling.
The interesting truth is that the more failure we learn from, the more our expertise grows.
Change it up.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins discovered that “if you perform a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”
It isn’t enough to just do 10,000 hours. You must focus on deliberate practice. You must change your routine. A small change of what you do results in a big change in how fast and deep you learn.
A classmate in college taught me to never read the same chapter the same way twice. Basically, find new ways to review the same material. When I did that, I began comprehending on a much higher level.
Lead while still acting like a student.
Experts are always learning. How you view yourself will determine all of your actions.
If you want to lead others, you need to become an expert. There is no other way. You choose what you become an expert in. Simon Sinek, the author of “Start With Why,” teaches that “Great leaders consider themselves students regardless of status.”
The best sales manager I ever had was always practicing. Even though he was our boss, he would rehearse and study every day. He was a great example of a permanent student.
As long as you think of yourself as a student, you will always be learning.
Read and apply. A lot.
While the most important thing you can do is take action, and the second is to plan, the next is to fill your mind with the knowledge it needs. Just like in any other situation, better data increases the chance for better decisions.
Read so you can teach and apply what you read.
The serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, and former hedge-fund manager James Altucher says that reading is one of the main ways to start your journey toward expertise. He teaches: “Read every book, blog, website, whatever, about what you want to be an expert in.” And then take action.
I read 200 books over the past 2 years, I am never going to do that again. I didn’t take the time to apply what I learned. While it is important to read, it is just as important to apply what you learn. Once you have a wealth of information, then you can combine it, change it, apply it and share it.
That is what all the best experts do anyway.
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Originally published at www.inc.com