7 Keys to Achieving a Goal in Your Area of NON-Expertise

non-expertiseMy friend and I recently spent the day in meetings with pastors, church leaders, and seminary professors.  And I must say that I was thoroughly impressed by the ability of my colleague, whose doctorate is in missiology, as he shared his vision and fielded questions in the area of Theological Education.  His expertise on the subject was evident!

I believe everyone is an expert in some area.  But I got to thinking.  Many of our goals lie in areas that we are unfamiliar with… and definitely not experts.  For example, how many of us have asked a teenager to help us set up our cellphone?

Expertise Exists

Expertise exists in every area.  We all know that.  The mechanic we take our car to is an expert at diagnostics and repair.  Our family physician is an expert at what he does.  The gardener we occasionally use when our yard begins to resemble the Amazon jungle is an expert too (and charges accordingly)!

10,000 Hours to Expertise

Malcolm Gladwell has written a fascinating #1 Best Seller called The Outliers in which he propagates the idea  that 10,000 hours given to any subject should make you an expert.  I highly recommend the book.  So we know that expertise exists, and this is because many have invested the time in their fields!

But what if you have goals in areas in which you are not an expert?

You can either spend 10,000 hours studying and practicing… or you can leverage the expertise of others who have already invested the time!  And if you are in any kind of leadership position, out of necessity you must do the latter.

Here are a few steps to take when you have a goal in one of these non-expertise areas:

7 Keys to Achieving a Goal in Your Area of NON-Expertise

1. Begin with prayer.

Ok, stop!!!  I’m not joking.  You might think this is an obvious step, but you would be amazed at how many people skip it.  You can’t.  If you do, forget the rest.

Prayer starts even before the moment of envisioning a desired outcome and laying out the subsequent goals toward achieving that outcome.

Pray about what God wants you to do.  Pray about your motives.  Ask yourself, “Are you looking out for the good of other people?”  “Are you looking for a way to meet legitimate needs?”  Prayer will get you on solid ground, and keep you there!

2. Recognize that you are not an expert at everything.

This is the pure reality.  Sure, there are times when we have to wear different hats because life throws a variety of challenges at us.  And some are better than others at wearing hats.  But we need to know when it is not be in anyone’s best interest for us to tackle a project.

Take a deep breath.  Stand back.  Look at the big picture.  Are you the one that is best suited for carrying out this task?  Be honest.

3. Find someone that knows what they are talking about.

We face a phenomenon today in which everyone is an expert because of infinite access to information on Google and YouTube.  If they could use their cellphone on Jeopardy, they’d all be winners! :)

Once when my wife was traveling to a conference, I desperately needed to have a shirt ironed for a meeting.

I went to YouTube.com and watched a five minute video on the process, and within half an hour, I had my shirt ironed and I was ready to go!  But, I was in no way a true expert at ironing!  Not in the least!!!

The same is true in other fields.  Everyone today claims expertise.  So as you look for someone, be wise, and find a person that genuinely knows what they are talking about.  Your overall investment and desired final outcome are worth spending a little more time up front.

4. Find someone that has an incredible track record.

Blah, blah, blah, doesn’t cut it.  We had floor tile laid in a house a few years ago by a man that once “sold ice to Eskimos.”  He also sold us on the fact that he was an expert at laying tile.

Well, the proof was in the pudding, and I ended up finishing the final room myself!  But first, I watched a YouTube video on how to do it!

Words must be backed up by actions when it comes to expertise.  Talk is cheap because supply always exceeds demand.

Check out someone’s credentials.  Do they have a portfolio?  Does their track record show that they know what they are talking about?  In the case of my colleague and Theological Education, his track record is totally coherent with what he says.  This makes him trustworthy!

A person’s track record may not be in doing a specific task.  Their track record might just be the fact that they always have a “Can Do” attitude and never fail to get their job accomplished!

5. Find someone that has the same outcome in mind that you have.

Often times, your vision is not the same vision someone else has.  It might be wiser to part ways before going much farther.  If though, you have matching visions, or this person is sold on your vision, then you have a good basis for a working relationship.

6. Give experts freedom but remain available as a resource. 

This is especially true with creative people.  Give them room to work.  Share the desired outcome with them. Show them the destination and then give them a say in the route to take.  There is nothing worse than micro-management. It stifles creativity and motivation and fosters frustration, stress, and ultimate failure.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already done, you will never grow. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Creative people thrive when given a challenge.  Step back and allow them to get into the flow.

7. Be ready to “abrir mão” or to “let go” of the project.

If you are in leadership, there is so much to do.  My present job covers so much territory that I choose to get things started, guide from a distance until things are rolling well, and then move on to a new goal, task, or project.

This requires the ability to “abrir mão” (Portugese: open the hand) and let go of things.  This is especially true of those items that fall under the categories that are not in our areas of expertise.  Others who are experts can carry these projects to their full fruition much more effectively than we can.

We can focus our efforts better on what we are experts at!


So the next time you make plans, don’t shy away from an area that you’re not familiar with.  There is someone that is perfectly prepared for the task!  Part of being a leader is being able to recognize this, and work with them to see solutions come together.  It’s really the ultimate win/win situation!

In the case of our meetings with pastors and seminary professors, we are seeing leaders and experts in their relative fields come together for a cause that is far greater than any one of us could have imagined, or even pulled off on our own. Wow!  An expert pool!

Learn to enjoy these moment, to thrive in them.  You will be amazed at what God can do!

Discussion Question:  Which one of these steps would help you take on a goal in an area of NON-expertise? How do you feel that would benefit you as a person?

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