People rarely pay you for your education.
They pay you for your expertise.
But what is expertise – you ask?
Expertise is your experience plus education.
One of the benefits of formal education is that it organises knowledge into a logical chunks for you to learn.
On the whole, this is a fantastic way to learn a body of knowledge.
Knowledge that has been read, analysed and organised so that it becomes easier for you to learn.
But – there is a pitfall to having an organised education.
Everyone who does it, graduates with the same knowledge.
On the one hand, this is important for quality control and standardisation of a particular profession.
For example, it makes sense, and is downright necessary, for all doctors to have a minimum level of knowledge in order to gain accreditation as a doctor.
This only makes sense for safety, right?
You wouldn’t want a doctor without a minimum level of training.
Using our doctor example, what happens if the solution to a problem lies outside of their formal education?
There lies a problem in formal education. It is limited by the very constraints that make it useful.
For one, you need to only contain the relevant information to train a competent professional. Otherwise, it would take decades before an individual attains all the knowledge.
But, whatever you cut out to create the course, could actually be very relevant to an individual that you are trying to help.
Therefore, the cliché holds true in almost any profession.
Never stop learning.
In the context of medicine, training is largely based on physiology (which is a reflection of the research being conducted). This goes deep into how the body works – the chemical reactions that occur with every drug and/or intervention taken.
This is then used as a way to treat medical conditions.
But in recent times, it has been abundantly clear that purely looking at chemical reactions in the body is not the entire way of treating a condition.
Now more than ever, is there an endorsement of human connection as a very real means of improvement.
Simply spending time with those you love has long-lasting effects on feelings of joy and mood.
Having a deep purpose in your life (such as those seen in religious practices), assists with hard times just as well as any pill you take.
But, if you’ve been trained to look at problems a certain way (eg. from a physiological standpoint), then it might be the only avenue of solution you can provide.
And this is where experience comes in. Experience is simply the culmination of events that you’ve encountered over time pertaining to a particular problem. Over time, experience builds. And it is within this experience that you’ll find something having to address similar problems in different ways.
Experience is when you merge what you’ve seen, with what you’ve been trained in, with what you know works (and therefore, doesn’t work), to the problem in front of you.
And that is precisely what your clients want from you.
Regurgitating information that you’ve read or passed a test on is great. But that’s just the start.
The real challenge – is how to apply that information to a particular individual in front of you.
Let’s use another example.
We all know the mechanism behind weight gain/loss, right?
The law of thermodynamics – calories in vs. calories out. Simple. Works. Probably true (I say probably because you never know what crazy new invention might come out).
If we see a person with weight gain/loss problems – it’s just a problem of eat less, move more… right?
In some cases… yeah. Probably.
But that’s not the only way to look at the weight gain/loss problem.
Why is it that most people will gain weight as they age? Is it just a fact of life?
Whereas it is undeniable that we put on weight easier as we age (and we do tend to lose muscle)… there are other factors at play.
One of the most powerful forces… is simply your social network.
Do your friends like to do active things when you’re together?
Do your friends like to indulge in food?
Do your friends like to go drinking every weekend?
How would their influence on you impact the calorie equation from above?
So, another way of looking at the weight loss problem could be a lack of relationships that facilitate a good calorie equation.
Now let’s circle back to you. Next time you have a client who wants to lose weight, are you going to immediately jump to the calorie in vs calorie out solution, or are you going to take some time to understand their social relationships?
Whichever path you take, it’s why you took that path that shows your expertise. Why someone should focus on their calorie control versus making better social decisions.
That’s what your clients pay for – your expertise.