When I deliver workshops to various groups one question inevitable comes up. “How can I come become an Expert?” The road to mastery of Excel is a path that anyone can take. Below are the distinguishing characteristics of Excel acumen.
- Be Inquisitive
One of the hallmarks of many experts, leaders and visionaries is their inquisitiveness. They never take what they see at face value. The questions about how and why always surface. Abraham Lincoln the 16th President of the United States never graduated from high school. However, he was a vociferous reader even at a young age. He enjoyed learning. Albert Einstein one who is universally noted as a genius would ponder the movements of a compass when he was young. Without an inquisitive mind the work of learning cannot begin.
- Take on Challenging Projects
The second hallmark of an Excel expert is the diversity of work. One of the things that make an expert a real expert is breath of experience and applications with Microsoft Excel. One of the quickest ways of becoming an expert is by taking on challenging projects. I’ve often taken on projects simply for the satisfaction of “solving the puzzle”. As a result of that challenging project I can be of better service to the clients, peers, and students that I serve.
- Consume Good Media
The third hallmark of an Excel expert is the consumption of good media. Experts often seek to learn and rub shoulders with other experts. Find good books, videos and articles about Excel. It is important to test the approaches learn in order to add them to our toolbox of techniques.
- Review Materials from Others
The fourth quality of an Excel expert is his/her openness. Typically, experts freely share knowledge and teach others. Helping others by reviewing projects and providing guidance is one way to give back to the community and enhance expertise further. Each time I teach a class I typically learn something from the students. The questions that are posed, the problems they encounter or approaches that they take further enhance my expertise. In addition, discussing the projects of others helps crystallize and clarify the personal techniques and approaches.
We live in a society where people desire outcomes instantly. The fact of the matter is that developing expertise takes time. In Malcom Gladwell’s book Outliers it was mentioned that 10,000 hours of work in a particular area is needed before the term “expert” can be attributable. While this is a helpful rule we must also consider that expertise is relative. If everyone has 10,000 hours of real world experience with Excel then no one is really an expert, everyone is the same. An expert continues to put time and effort to honing his/her craft.
- Seek Credentials
Another hallmark of an expert is that he/she is recognized by others as possessing extensive knowledge. I am a huge proponent of credentials and some people value them to a high degree. For this purpose seeking credentials can help set a person apart as an expert. Microsoft has a few certifications that validate the capabilities of participants with the tool.
- Never think you’re Expert
The final hallmark of an expert is that he/she doesn’t consider himself/herself an expert. Experts are inherently filled with a need to learn more about the subject matter. Albert Einstein said “the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.”
Those are the seven hallmarks of an Excel expert. A focus on those areas will improve your working knowledge of Excel and the perception of peers.