An Expert Is A Person

An Expert Is A Person
graphic © eminentlyquotable.com

“An expert is a person who can take something you knew already and make it sound confusing.” – H. Prochnow

Herbert Prochnow (1897 – 1998) is known as a writer of epigrams, anecdotes, and books on public speaking. He was a brilliant toastmaster who was noted for his witticism. He was also a U.S. banking executive and the Vice President of the First National Bank of Chicago.

What makes an expert expert? Prochnow implies that experts are simply pretentious people who hide their real worth behind complex words and an air of superiority. One amusing example was the wine tasting event that happened in Paris during 1976 in which French wine experts were invited for a blind tasting of French and California wines. Surprisingly, California wines were rated higher than the French wines which are commonly lauded as incomparable. More surprisingly, the so-called experts often mistook the California wines for French wines and vice versa.

Apparently, supposed expertise in other various fields does not guarantee superior performance, says current research. Other studies even suggest that experts have the tendency to decline with experience! Turns out, real expertise is more than a diploma or the number of years in service; it has to be consistently superior, produces concrete results, and can be replicated and measured in the lab.

So how does one become a real expert? The article “The Making of an Expert” in Harvard Business Review states that it requires deliberate practice which involves improving your skills and extending their reach and range. Relying exclusively on intuition will not prepare an “expert” for situations that demand a different and rare approach.

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