Experts are blind.

Sometimes you can go so deep in something, you don’t see your mistakes anymore. It’s like you can only see what’s in front of you.

Experts are blind. Yes, I know this may sound a bit strange but it is true. I think we all have had the feeling that everyone else does not understand our point. We are so convinced of our truth that it’s very frustrating to see the others doubt and disagree.

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This is what happens with experts. They know their domain so well that they forget to think outside it. They always dig deeper and deeper and forget to ask for help. Details can make the difference they say. Ofcourse they can. But a broader view WILL make a difference. I can understand experts. It is human nature to explore what we already know. The unknown is frightening and might learn us things that change all our ideas. Maybe we have to change our way of working. Or worse, we have to correct the things we already delivered.

Experts have experience. They have worked for years in the same domain and know how it all works. Yeah right. I don’t believe in experience as is. It’s not because you work five years in the same sector that you know everything. If you work for five years in the same sector and you do the things you love to do, then you will know a lot. But even then you need to keep innovating your knowledge. Listen to other people, look for new perspectives on what you are doing. It might be difficult to accept that someone new is right. But often they are. Why? Because they look at it as someone new. They question everything and Google for information. And you will see, they will find other sources of information than those you have explored for many years.

I don’t want you to think that I don’t like experts. I just want to show you that there are different ways to fill the role of an expert. You can see it as someone who needs to be in the lead. Someone who has to control everything and everyone. Other people have to ask whether they can make a change and will mostly avoid to go into discussion with this kind of expert. I hope you understand that this can be very negative for the team as well as for the expert. The expert I prefer is someone who shares what he knows but is open for other ideas and perspectives. He or she is challenged by other opinions, even if they may seem wrong in the beginning. Instead of checking the work of the new guy, he will ask the new guy to take a look at his own work. The value here is to share knowledge and learn from each other.

What kind of expert are you?

Share to grow.

If you want to grow, you need to share. It’s simple. I suppose that this will sound strange to some of you. But when you think about it, you will notice it’s the truth.

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There is a lot of knowledge in our world, but unfortunately it doesn’t get spread as well as we’d like. For a lot of us, knowledge is a source of power. Knowledge gives them a way to control things. For them, sharing knowledge is like giving away their money or being degraded at work. Instead of sharing their knowledge, they tell people they will arange it for them.

I know how to do it, I’ll fix it for you.

Doing so, they make sure, that the others are not able to build the same knowledge and as bonus they become even more powerfull because everyone needs them. But every story get’s his end. Sooner or later, they will be overflooded with questions from others. They will not be able to keep up demand and people will start to look for alternatives. That’s a good thing for the people seeking for alternatives but a sad thing for those that blocked their knowledge for others. Soon they will realize that it could have been different.

Think about it. Do you want to perform the same task for the rest of your life? Do you want to respond to the same question over and over again? Do you want to be indispensable?

Being indispensable may look like a good thing but it isn’t. In the beginning, you may like that people need you for everything they do. After some time it starts to be annoying. Your valuable time will be spent doing the things you already know. You will not be able to do the things you like. Exploring new things and being creative will become impossible. Just because you wanted to have more power. I have to be honest that I am afraid too. Afraid that someone else will become better than me. Afraid that they wil get the job offer I dream about. But I realized that this fear is not needed. You need to share when you want to grow.

When you want to become a leader, you need to be able to trust people and delegate. By sharing your knowledge, other people can pick up your tasks so that you can pick up new tasks. Keeping the knowledge for yourself will keep you in the place you are now. While I’m saying that I’m afraid that someone else will become better than me, I know that is not true. When you share your knowledge with other people, they will share their knowledge with you. Doing so, both become better and smarter.

Luckily for us, there are still a lot of people out there that want to share with others. It are those people that will be innovative and smarter than the rest. They will make sure that those that are afraid to share, will get behind. If they are smart, sharing knowledge will be their new hobby :).

Not convinced? Check out initiatives like Seats2Meet and the Serendipity Machine, both live from the knowledge people want to share.

Tip: Watch this TED video

I’ve found back my old love.

Who? That’s the wrong question. What? Reading. I used to read a lot while I was younger. But when I went to highschool, I stopped reading. I don’t even know why.

I used to read different books every month, when I was younger. I rented the maximum amount of books at the library and at the end of the renting period I finished them all. That means 7 books in 6 weeks or so. I loved reading. I always went for quick adventures, stories that made me want to turn the page. Stories that made me go for that extra chapter. Before I knew, I could start the next book. But I’ve never read ’informational’ books or biographies. Maybe because I was too young or just because I did not like them.

I suppose that was the reason I stopped reading when I grew older and went to highschool. People expected us to read the news, read books about history and what we were studying. But why would I read those if they did not interest me? But that was not the main reason. I had a busy life playing soccer, going to school, assignments for school, breeding birds and so on. To be honest, it never occured to me that I was not reading anymore. I didn’t even think about it.

Until now. Since last year, I started reading blogposts and short articles. About life, productivity and other stuff. People were blogging about the books they were reading and how they learned a lot just by reading what others wrote down with so many passion. So I started reading the short ebooks provided by those bloggers. Mostly free but with great content. Then I started reading about the things I do at work. About datawarehousing and agile development because I wanted to learn more about what I was doing. But I noticed that this lecture is not the same as reading life experiences and little adventures. I needed to think while reading and store some things in my memory. Those books could not be read in the evening. At least, I couldn’t read them because my mind is tired in the evening after a day of work. So I started reading in the morning at 5:30 AM before I went to work at 7 AM. This works for me. I enjoyed doing so but still those ’learning’ books are not always as easy to read. I like books like ’Getting Things Done’ by David Allen because those books tell a story. They are written with practical knowledge and have that factor that make you go for that extra chapter.

Right now, I am reading ’Mijn Leven, Sven Nys’, a book about cyclocrosser Sven Nys and how he experiences his carreer. This is the book that made me find back my old love. Reading.

My advice? Ask people what books they are reading and when you think ’this is the one’, buy it and start reading. Not as good as you thought? Close it an go look for another one.