You might be having some trouble being creative once people start referring to you as an “expert.” That’s because we as human beings tend to let the “expert” label go to our heads. Oh, sure, we all know that pride goes before a fall and all that, but we still let such compliments inflate our ego. Perhaps unconsciously, but the poison is still taken in. Then we might really become set in our positions of incompetence. And then we wonder why we just can’t seem to get fresh ideas any more.
Ever had that experience? I certainly have! So, how do we remain creative when we need to become expert at whatever it is we’re doing? And we DO need to become experts in at least one field, don’t we? Well, here are a few things we can do.
1. Discern between praise and flattery.
Genuine praise draws attention to the character quality demonstrated. Achieving mastery in a skill, say, strategic planning, often results from being diligent and thorough in many areas, resulting in one being able to forecast accurately and devise viable options. However, being commended for good looks is flattery, for we didn’t do anything to get our good looks, we inherited them. Being able to distinguish between praise and flattery helps us stay grounded.
2. Learn how to appropriately deflect praise.
If we are praised for manifesting a certain character quality, we avoid being puffed up by it by attributing that character quality, say, hospitality, to how our parents taught us the importance of sharing food, shelter and conversations with others. Our parents might have demonstrated inclusiveness by entertaining guests at home and bringing life to the phrase “Make yourself at home.” Or we might attribute our consistent punctuality to a manager or other co-worker in the company having inspired us to always be punctual by their own personal examples.
3. Constantly look around and find ways to get better.
A true expert always finds ways to make things better and improve on skills. Being excellent in what you do gives you more time to wander around, go for conventions, exhibitions, talks and similar events. This keeps you abreast on developments in your industry or field. Don’t restrict yourself to just your own working sphere, though. Look at what’s happening in adjacent industries and take an occasional look at what people in some totally unrelated endeavours are doing. Some creative spark might be ignited while you’re at it!
By all means, be an expert at whatever you’re doing. Remember that experts never stop learning, and experts never stop practicing. That’s why they’re experts. By the way, you might have realized by now that a true expert is always creative. That’s how experts are.