Choose your area of Expertise!

We all have come across experts of various kinds in our lives. One could be an expert in say Finance , medicine, chemistry , cooking or whatever else one chooses. What does it mean to be an expert? It obviously means that one is capable of analysing any complex issue in his area and provide answers without much effort. Then the question arises as to how does one acquire expertise. Before we explore this question further I must add that most of us are indeed capable of becoming experts in some field or the other provided we choose to become one. In fact aren’t we already experts in our own right? Some of us are experts in getting angry – they get angry at the slightest irritation. Some are good at getting depressed or frustrated easily, or feeling jealous at other’s successes. Don’t get me wrong. I am not being sarcastic. It takes as much effort to become an expert in a professional field as it takes to become addicted to negative emotions. I mean the neurological process of becoming an expert is more or less similar in both cases. Let me elaborate this below in simple terms:

According to neurologists there are three distinct steps to become an expert. They are THINKING – DOING – BEING. In the first step we are simply making a mental image of what we want to become. In the second step we are actually taking steps like learning and consciously implementing whatever is required to be done. In the third stage, through constant practice of what we have learned , we virtually BECOME THAT. We are familiar with this process in our formal education system. The same phenomenon applies to learning music or dance. One might ask what is new about all this. What is new is the neurological basis for the whole phenomenon. Let us look at each step very briefly. First two steps involve activating our Conscious part of our brain and its related neuron circuitry.These steps involve the active involvement of our FRONTAL LOBE (more specifically Prefrontal cortex). By repeated mental rehearsal and practice , the learning process becomes complete. That is to say, we become CONSCIOUSLY skillful (Note the emphasis on the word Conscious). In the final step of BECOMING THAT, we activate and transfer our skill to the Subconscious part of our brain – the midbrain,which is responsible for performing actions automatically and voluntarily. That is when the skill becomes a SUBCONSCIOUS skill. Once the skill is subconscious,we perform it automatically without intervention from our conscious brain. It is like cycling,jogging, athletic sports etc.
In other words a skill is first acquired consciously and only when that becomes subconscious does it make a transition to qualify as an expertise. The neurological process of becoming an expert is the same whether it is expertise in music or an expertise in expressing negative emotions like anger, jealousy,depression etc. Therefore, it is entirely up to us to choose our area of expertise.

Now the next most important question is what if we want to get rid of our already acquired addictions to negative emotions. As you would expect , the neurological process for deaddiction is just the opposite of acquiring addictions or expertise.
I think I should deal with this important and valuable process in a separate post.

Published in: on March 13, 2011 at 12:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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