Expert or Sponge?

I often see and hear the word “expert” thrown around in the furniture painting industry. Especially when someone wants to sell their advice. It always makes me hesitate when someone says, “I’m an expert at it.” Really? What makes you an expert over so many others?

Merriam-Webster defines expert as: having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

I have raised five kids. Does that make me a parenting expert? I had plenty of ups and downs getting them through their teen years. I don’t consider myself a parenting expert but I give my kids plenty of advice now and then on how to raise their kids! Seeing how amazing my grandchildren are, I think my kids are much more expert at raising kids than I was!

I had an interior design/custom drapery business for years and sewed some pretty amazing curtains and draperies. Even had some featured in a national magazine! I made a lot of my kids clothes and even created a few wedding dresses and rodeo queen outfits. But, I have a friend, Jan Faulkner Leather, that can sew circles around me with her leather dress creations for rodeo queens. To me, she’s the expert!

As I look at every facet of life and in the furniture painting business I think we all have an area of expertise. We develop our own talent, styles and techniques and continue to grow. When do we reach the point that we are considered experts?

I know how to paint and use dark wax pretty well. It’s kind of “my thing.” But, I couldn’t tell you what’s in the paint or wax and give you any technical advice on it at all. I love to do what I do, but I’m hardly an expert. I’m still learning my craft.

Out of necessity, my husband and I keep our staging very simple. We know what sells for us and how to chose quality pieces. It seems to work because we sell our pieces pretty quickly and make a decent profit. Having a good furniture painting business doesn’t make me an expert. I still have so much to learn about marketing and other areas of business.

Considering yourself an expert often leads to self-aggrandizement and you stop learning.

You stop changing.

You stop growing.

Your vision becomes narrow and you stifle creativity.

In furniture painting, creativity is what sets us apart!

Having the badge of “expert” isn’t what I want to achieve. I don’t know it all and never will. I want a badge that simply says, “Sponge.” I want to soak up all of the tidbits of knowledge from others to make me a better painter, business woman, and person.

Being a member of different Facebook groups, watching video's, reading, and networking has helped me become better at what I do every day.

When I become a real expert, I will let you know.

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