Nice post from Quest Online Personal Training and Coaching:
One of Quest’s core beliefs is that expert care leads to better results. But what does this mean in a practical sense?
I read an awesome tweet from an outstanding, passionate youth soccer coach in California, Gary Kleiban.
Experience is not the same as expertise. The question to ask is: Experience in what exactly?
— Gary Kleiban (@3four3) September 12, 2014
When looking for someone to help us reach a goal or solve a problem, we often ask, “How long have you been doing this?” I would suggest that while that is important, it is not the only question to ask. Expertise requires experience, of course. But it’s more than that. Consider:
- Some of my former physical therapy colleagues who have been practicing for more than 15 years. As much as I respect them, I would not consider them experts at treating sports-related injuries.
- Someone who has ammassed years and years of personal training to help people lose weight. That personal trainer might very well be an expert at that, but I would not consider him or her an expert at helping a client run faster or jump higher.
- A highly successful runner who has won races of all distances from 5k to marathon. A great runner, obviously, but that experience does not make that runner an expert at helping others do the same.
While various expertise scales exist, expertise to us is a combination of the education, experience and passion.
Formal education indicates that a person has a baseline level of knowledge. To function in any profession, having that deep understanding of the field is mandatory. Further, it is an illustration of not only interest but it shows a willingness to work hard and to prepare for something. One of my favorite courses at Creighton University was physics; I enjoyed it not because I ever had any desire to be a physicist. Rather, I appreciated the hard work it took on my part to do well. A professional that has completed a degree (or degrees) shows that he or she knows how to work hard toward an end goal.
Things change . . . experts adapt to those changes by never ending the education process. So, another part of the education process is continuing education. Even thought the formal education is complete, the learning process shouldn’t end. Reading research studies, attending advanced continuing education offerings, participating in a mentorship, or taking a class are all examples of continued learning. A professional might have the formal education piece, but not the continuing education part. Both are important . . . both are essential to being an expert.
Education is great and it is necessary to be an expert. But having that education without using it does not an expert make. There absolutely must be a detailed, prolonged history of working in the field. For example, a new graduate has attained the foundational education necessary to practice, but they haven’t seen the variations and nuances in that profession that only experience can provide. Further, this experience must be specific; just like a soccer coach with 15 years experience can’t pretend to know how to coach a bodybuilder, a triathlon coach with 20 years of experience has little qualification to coach a golfer. Specificity and subspecialization matter.
One of the most controversial aspects of experience is participation in that given sport. Does 10 years of playing soccer qualify someone as an expert coach? What about running for 20 years? Will that make someone an expert coach? Is a 2:20 marathoner a better coach than someone that can’t break three hours? While this type of experience can be a part of what a successful coach offers, it is far from a guarantee.
The intense desire to be involved in a given profession is essential to being considered an expert. A professional might have the education and experience but without the “want” to work in the profession, I would suggest expertise is impossible. So, how is passion measured? Given its nebulous nature and definition, it can be quite difficult to ascertain a professional’s passion for the field. We’ve found one indirect measurement is the pursuit and achievement of advanced credentials. Certifications illustrate not only an advanced knowledge, it shows that the professional cares about the field and wants to be part of the given professional organization. This isn’t the only measurement of passion, but it is perhaps the most objective available and it’s one Quest relies upon.
Education, experience and passion are all necessary to be called an expert. But perhaps the most important characteristic is the ability to use that combination of three characteristics to solve problems and make judgments. Stated differently using all of those prerequisites to make decisions that best help people (clients, athletes, patients, etc.) . . . that is an expert.
We believe expert care leads to better results.