Waiting for the Expert Fairy

ExpertI have a confession to make. I used to really, REALLY crave approval. I wanted so badly to be recognized for being awesome at what I did, and for the contributions I made―and it hurt to the core of my soul when that didn’t happen.

For me, this longing never morphed into debilitating people-pleasing behavior (unless you count going WAY over the top for my clients, which I did and still do). Nor did I ever voice my need to be recognized, or talk myself up. Instead, my longing to be valued quietly turned to resentment, bitterness, and envy. My pity party went like this: I was good at what I did, dammit. I was as good as, or better than, many of those so-called experts who were raking in all the money, stage time, and clients. So, why weren’t people seeing me? Why weren’t they raving about MY work, and MY worth? What was wrong with me?

I recognize now that I was waiting for the Expert Fairy. I was waiting for someone more magical and powerful than me to come along, wave a twinkly wand over my head, and turn on my visibility like a light switch. Then, once the world could finally see all I had to offer, I would be miraculously catapulted into stardom in my field, where I’d find happiness, life balance, endless abundance, and everything I ever wanted.

I just had to be good enough, for long enough, for that Expert Fairy to notice me. Then, poof! Success! Expert Status! Validation!

(Bet you can’t guess how THAT worked out.)

I know that many of us have been in this place. We think we need a fancy title or 30,000 Facebook fans to be certifiably great at what we do. We think that if we aren’t instant New York Times best-sellers, our book is a failure. We think that if our next course launch doesn’t break seven figures, we must be doing something wrong. We have all of these outward measures of success, and all of them depend on other people validating the worth of our work. We see people who have “made it” as somehow better than we are, with a bigger purpose and more to offer. Every time we wish for others to make us bigger, we feel smaller.

I call this “Shark Tank culture”; a false, cultivated need to have someone “bigger” than you determine your worthiness to be seen, shared, and liked. The problem is, worth that’s bestowed by someone else is as fickle as a Twitter trend; it never puts down deep roots, and can easily be usurped by the Next Big Thing. 

The trouble with this mentality isn’t that it pushes us to do more and better work. Constant improvement is a hallmark of greatness in any field. No, the issue with waiting for the Expert Fairy (or Shark Tank, or whatever) is that, by waiting and wishing and hoping instead of doing and planning and learning, you’re not acting like the expert you want to be. You’re acting like a damsel in distress, waiting for a magical rescue.

Here’s the biggest paradox of our entrepreneurial world: expert status is something YOU choose, not something that’s given to you. When I finally realized that the Expert Fairy wasn’t going to come along and pluck me out of my dollars-per-hour freelancing work, it was like a revelation. I wasn’t working in near-invisibility because I wasn’t good enough to be noticed, but because I CHOSE to play small in my business―and because, secretly, I was afraid to claim the mantle of visibility I’d been telling myself was my due. Once I really understood that, big things started to happen.

It takes only two things to be an expert in your field. Experience and know-how, so you can teach others to live better lives in your own unique way. And guts, because being seen is SCARY.  

If you look at many of the “experts” in your field, you’ll find that they didn’t start out with their current amazing resumes. In fact, they probably started exactly where you are. Many of the opportunities that solidified their expert status came AFTER they made the choice to put themselves out there and own the value of their work. 

You can’t expect big doors to open for you if you never set foot outside your comfort zone. And you can’t expect to be recognized as an expert if you don’t own your own value and stop with the false modesty. So go ahead: brag a little. Start telling people how awesome your book, program, or method is. Start sharing the results you’re getting. Start thinking of yourself as the number-one go-to person for the clients you serve. When YOU start treating your work like it’s a big deal, other people will treat it that way, too―and they’ll be even more excited to share it. 

It makes me a little sad when I think about how many years I spent waiting for someone to come along and lift me up onto the stage of my own life. It honestly never occurred to me that, rather than wishing for someone to drag me up to the mic like so much dead weight, I could climb those stairs myself―and that, when I did, the Expert Fairy, and so many other magical mentors, friends, and colleagues, would be waiting there to give me a hand up.

Bryna René Haynes About Bryna René Haynes

Bryna René Haynes is the founder of The Heart of Writing, the chief editor for Inspired Living Publishing, and the author of The Art of Inspiration: An Editor’s Guide to Writing Powerful, Effective Self-Help and Inspirational Books (Inspired Living Publishing, 2016). In addition to working with private clients around the world, she has guided over 180 authors through the Authentic Storytelling model as editor for ILP’s best-selling print anthology series. Learn more about Bryna at www.theheartofwriting.com