How do you become an expert in your career?

If you have been through a Tim Horton’s drive-thru, you know that you can get a meal or coffee that is decent in two minutes or less, at a price that won’t break the bank. It is not quite the same when you go to a restaurant like Canoe. For those of you not familiar with the place, Canoe is a "5 star" restaurant in Toronto. At Canoe, not only do you get to taste exquisite dishes, but you also get to experience luxury and comfort from the moment you enter the door until you pay your bill (which is also not quite the same as Tim Horton’s!). At Canoe, the staff are truly experts in their field.

There are two main issues to becoming an expert: time and motivation.

Time: it takes approximately 10 years on average to become an expert at anything. Whether you are learning a new skill in anything from plumbing to brain surgery, there will always be an initial learning curve. Researchers followed a chess player in Canada called DH. They tracked him over a 9 year period from amateur to one of Canada’s leading masters. Neil Charness, professor of Psychology at Florida State University, found that DH analyzed chess positions much the same as other players, but he was able to rely on a vastly improved knowledge of the chess positions and strategy in general.

This research is now called the "10 year rule" – it takes a decade of study and effort to master any field, including yours. It makes for a great question to ask anyone you are buying services from; "How long have you been in business?". Time creates experiences, and experiences create wisdom.

As in the Canoe experience, it takes a lot of training to move from Sous Chef to Matre D, to Head Chef. Think of the cumulative amount of training and time that it takes to put together a 5 star meal. Now think Tim Horton’s – in almost every Tim Horton’s that I have been in, there has been a notice for help. Once new staff is hired, they are trained and left to their own devices in about 2 days – hence the difference in experience and taste. Double/Double just doesn’t cut it. There are no short cuts to a great meal, or a great career.

In next week’s WORKout, I will discuss motivation.

This week’s 10 minute WORKout:

What courses or training could you take to upgrade your skills, and become more of an expert? Take some time to investigate some of the extra training that would help you with this.

Along the road with you,

Alan Kearns