Last week I was coaching a new client who is an amazing expert on wireless technology at a Fortune 100 company and I heard myself say, “Maybe it is time to move from being an expert to being a master.”
What’s the difference? The difference is in how one asserts their information. It seems to me that an expert asserts his expertise fully, readily and frequently to all who will listen. A master is someone who reveals what he knows as needed in the moment. A master says the one right thing that a listener needs to know because the master can perceive what the listener needs for his next step. The master is tuned in to the listener.
Everyone will know who the expert is, because the expert will make sure everyone knows. But many people will not know who the master is, because the master will hold back anything that the listener is not ready to hear. The expert will draw lots of attention, the master will likely not.
Once you have become an expert at something, there is a natural evolution into mastery. Mastery happens when you stop asserting your expertise as something to get attention and begin to offer your skills into service to humanity. You essentially transcend your skills and become a humble servant, giving your expertise to help others gain the same level of ability. You might think of Mr. Miagi in the movie The Karate Kid. Or the Dali Lama who when asked who he was said simply, “It’s just me.”
Once an expert stops trying to impress, he steps into the level of mastery. Making complex things simple is the realm of the master. He simply is the master and what he does is simple.
My own mastery is guiding people to express themselves authentically in front of groups. My approach is simple. I help people relax into being who they are in front of other people and give them simple steps for putting ideas together to craft compelling messages. My students say they have trouble telling their friends and family what we do in class, because it is so simple. I simply make it safe for people to be authentic. When people feel free to be who they are, they are naturally eloquent and what they say inspires listeners.