Every Expert Has Their Limits

Image via Komarketing Associates, LLC.

“There’s only so much I can do.” It’s probably the most common lament out of my mouth, and even though my case is probably not identical to yours, it’s a sentiment we can all relate to.

You see, I’m a scientist — an astrophysicist — and a science writer. When news and stories about the Universe on both the largest and most fundamental scales break, there are a slew of individuals and organizations who look to me to cut through the noise and separate what’s true (and worth listening to) from what’s skewed, sensationalized or an outright scam. Yet no matter how much content I produce myself, even as an expert in the field, I could never cover it all.

But my focus isn’t on being the first to cover a story, it’s on being the highest-quality option out there. I want to frame the story properly, around the context of what else is going on. I want to talk about the limits of what’s known and the nuanced possibilities of what’s next. I don’t want to have the same, middle-of-the-road content that’s quick and cheap to put out; my brand is quality and trust. If someone asks me how to position themselves as a trusted expert, there’s never an alternative to actually being an expert and focusing your efforts on quality.

But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice covering the stories that you yourself don’t have time to do justice to. Just because there’s a limit to what you yourself can write and create given all your other constraints doesn’t mean you can’t be a trust-building thought leader when it seems that you can’t keep up; it means that you need to embrace letting others do the dirty work for you. And that means seeking out and sharing the high-quality content (by your expert standards) created by others.

It’s a move that seems counterintuitive at first glance. But the hard truth is you have a finite amount of time and resources at your disposal, and there’s a finite amount of content that you could (and should) generate yourself. But part of being an expert is being able to recognize quality when you see it, and a judicious choice of good stories to share can help fill-in-the-gaps both when something is beyond the limits of your resources and also when something is even slightly beyond your own personal expertise!

There are far too many pseudo-experts out there using smoke-and-mirrors to draw attention, but eventually the lack of substance catches up with them all. You’re not one of them, so why would you use the same cheap tricks and tactics they do, when you could be building trust instead? When you speak with that established foundation of quality behind you, the world will listen to what you have to say. And because you knew what your limits were — and you knew how to deal with it — you can step up and say your piece when it counts the most.


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