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There are So Many “Experts” in Everything That it’s Hard to Know Who To Listen To Isn’t It?

When you are trying to make a change or accomplish something it’s smart to seek outside input. Read books, watch videos, attend seminars, and maybe even seek coaching, mentoring or counseling. Thanks to today’s technology connected society, if you want to learn how to do practically anything, you can “YouTube” it and someone will show you how. When you want an answer to a basic question you can “Google it.”

For practical stuff this is awesome, but when it comes to things are little more in-depth and complex, like how to build a business or develop a skill, or overcome a health challenge, it can become a crap shoot.

There are so many “experts” and many of them are saying different things about the same thing, so how do YOU know which is the right one for you to listen to? There are literally online courses on how to “position yourself as an expert” for marketing purposes. So truly, anyone who wants to can develop the marketing savvy to appear to be an expert.

This is Where The Challenge Comes In

You only have so much time to invest in the learning part of what you are trying to do, because you have to also be investing in the doing part! Pastor Jason Smith at Latitude Church right here in my new home New Bern, North Carolina said something pretty interesting yesterday. He said he read about Oprah Winfrey giving advice on parenting and marriage. Now Oprah is massively credible and an inspiring example of how someone can start from nothing and do great things. She is clearly an expert on many things. But Oprah is not married and does not have children (sadly she did have a child at 14 that died at birth). Should someone take her advice about these two areas?

Not in my world. She may have a depth of knowledge about the topic from reading and from being in the company of other experts, but has she lived it? No. But I bet lots of people follow her advice, and that’s fine. To each his own. It’s not my place to tell anyone what they should do. I’m just saying that’s not someone I would choose to follow on that topic were I looking for input.

Here is How I Evaluate Who to Listen To

Experience: Have they done the thing I want to do? And, have they done it sustainably for a long period of time. As Jim Rohn said “endurance is the true test of validity.” I’m not interested in someone who succeeded at something for a short time…maybe five years. I want to see if they have done it for a long time. This is important because things change so fast on our planet, that it takes truly knowing the fundamentals to succeed long term in anything from health to business to relationships. Gimmicks and new technologies can super-cede fundamentals in the short term, but never over the long term. Fundamentals don’t change. They can be enhanced by new advances, but not really changed much.

The person doesn’t have to be still doing the thing either. They could just purely be teaching at this point. They also needn’t to have been a superstar in the thing (actually it is rare that a superstar is a great coach or teacher…it happens, but not often), just demonstrated that they did it successfully at some level for a while. A great example of this is Bill Belichick, the current coach of the New England Patriots Football team, and arguably the best coach of all time (btw, I am not a Patriots fan:-). He was not a great football player and he doesn’t PLAY football now. But if I was going to learn anything about football and he was willing to teach me, he would be the first person I would want to learn from. The world of sports has tons of these examples, and so does the business world, whether it’s traditional or home business.

I value experience much more than education in this instance. Just because someone has a certification, or a degree, or a long list of letters behind their name, does not mean they have lived the work. It means they have completed a course or a course work, and it’s not transferable in most cases. A doctor with an MD behind his or her name, would be someone I might seek out about treatment for something medically in a certain situation, but I would only talk to them about staying healthy, if it was obvious that they lived in a way that demonstrated it.

Motivation: This one is a little tricky because it’s not easy to see someone’s motivation at first. Many people are completely focused on the money-making aspect of providing their expertise. There’s nothing wrong with making money from providing valuable input. You should get paid for it, because it is of value. It’s more about how they’re centered. If you learn something from someone and it helps you be hugely successful (and just one nugget at the right time that you act on can do this), then that was worth many times whatever you paid for it.

It’s more a heart thing for me. Do they do the thing because they love to do the thing and help people? This is what I want to figure out before I go too far down the road of investing resources for their expertise. Online today there are many thousands of voices all presenting themselves as experts. Many use the concept of attraction marketing. They put out some value in the areas of their expertise (I do this too). Others use paid advertising. Either way, the purpose is to get you to see them and decide if you can learn from them and if they resonate with you.

Eventually, you will end up in a webinar, or on a funnel page, or a website, where you can buy something. All good so far. Lots of people do very well using this approach. What I look for is how much value do I get before I have to invest in the programs? Is the value surface stuff that I could find anywhere, or is it useable and could help me even if I didn’t invest in the next level? And then of course, I refer back to the first thing I mentioned…their experience. If they resonate from a heart perspective, and they have had enduring success, now they have my attention and I am likely to go the next step and purchase something from them or seek a conversation with them to determine the next and final piece of the puzzle.

Integrity: This will be the biggest piece of the puzzle for me. Integrity is a wholeness in the way someone lives and works. I can’t follow someone who succeeds in one thing at the cost of other more meaningful things in life. This may not be true for you, and I respect that, but for me, if I have to sacrifice anything that is core values based to accomplish something else, then that’s a long term losing proposition. I want to know, to the degree I can determine, is this a person of strong character who is honest. Do they have my best interest at heart, or only to the degree that I help them move forward? Do they walk their talk in all areas of life. Are they kind and respectful to others, particularly when they aren’t in the limelight? This takes a while to determine, and as a result, I’m not very quick to follow anyone. I need to have a lot of exposures to them and optimally when they don’t know I am watching. I know people who have been very successful in their field of endeavor, but are just not good people. These are exceptions, not the rule, because if you are under-handed or inauthentic it tends to catch up to you at some time.

So there’s my take on this topic. Was this helpful for you?

Please let me know in the comments below and feel free to share with others. If you have a question or there is a topic you’d like me to write on please email me.

Many Blessings,

Todd

P.S. If you like to read books that help you live a well-rounded, joyful and productive life you might want to check out my book “Live Full, Live Well.”

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