THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Lana Shlafer Headshot

How I Became the World's Leading Expert

Posted: Updated:

When people ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, a typical answer might be something like a teacher or a doctor. Not me.

I used to say that I wanted to be an expert.

Whoa, big word for a seven year old! "An expert in what?" I was asked. I didn't care in what discipline I developed expertise. It just felt so good to think of myself as the most knowledgeable person in something.

I felt very frustrated and depressed for much of my 20s because I believed I was not diving far enough into any line of work to develop expertise. Nothing seemed to captivate me for long with the kind of zest that I wanted to feel.

Why didn't I stay at Citigroup, on the paved path to becoming a successful, high-ranking investment banker? Why didn't I continue teaching yoga full time and strive to become one of the most sought-after yoga instructors? Why didn't I go back and finish my M.A. in transpersonal counseling when I completed most of the course work?

"You'll never hit water if you dig a bunch of shallow wells," I heard somewhere and cringed. "What's wrong with me?" I'd think. "Am I just not that smart or talented?"

I wanted to be a leader, a path paver, a recognized voice in something so badly! I wanted to feel unequivocally purposeful and know that THIS was what I am meant to do.

Yet I wasn't interested in picking something that didn't captivate my heart and soul and working "hard" at it. I wanted a calling to seduce me and I wanted to be madly in love with it, not just marry it because we've been dating for a while.

I spent so long thinking that I needed more degrees, more training and more experience to be knowledgeable, that I didn't see the forest through the trees. Nothing held my exclusive attention for long because I was on a different life track than becoming a subject expert.

I wanted to become an expert in myself.

I now see that all that dabbling in banking, project management, success coaching, dance, personal training, yoga and transpersonal psychology did not make me a "master" in any of those fields, but it did help me get to know many different facets of myself and what I love. It has allowed me to see various aspects of the human psyche, to experience a broad range of situations, and to understand the spiritual basis of reality.

Because I hadn't attained the outward laurels, I began looking within to feel successful, worthy, recognized and cherished. And that is what I was looking for all along!

Even as a seven year old, I associated being valued and respected (and ultimately feeling worthy), with external confirmation. Now I see that my meandering path was the perfect training ground for me to discover that my expertise was knowing myself and helping others to meet, court and fall in love with themselves.

And that makes me more than an expert. It makes me the BEST! The best at being the unique version of me that I have come to this earth to be.

Empowerment time: do you feel that you know yourself as well as you'd like? Are you an expert at meeting your own needs? Here is a simple exercise you can practice to develop a stronger sense of self and self-care.

First, spend a few quiet minutes slowing down and deepening the breath. Feel the sensations in the body, allowing waves of relaxation to wash over you. When you feel settled, silently ask yourself what you need most in this very moment. Is it rest? Nourishment? Movement? Are you craving to connect with a loved one? To find more inspiration in your life? Don't be afraid to admit what you are wanting, even if you can't meet that desire right at this moment.

Then think of one activity this week that will help you get more of what you want. Maybe a yoga class, maybe a much needed night out with friends or a coaching session with me to shift into a new perspective. You are worth it!

Schedule this activity into your calendar and comment below on what it is (or tell a friend). The more you commit to following through on the wisdom that your inner voice whispers, the easier it will be to meet your own needs and feel fulfilled, satisfied and ready to share happiness with others!

For more by Lana Shlafer, click here.

For more on success and motivation, click here.

From Our Partners