I hear this come up from time-to-time, place-to-place, and Job-to-Job. It is not expressed more often by any particular group, department or individual. And it’s expressed as often by the “Old Guy”, as the “Boomer” or the “Millennial”.
It usually follows a course delivery, a change of assignment/rank or increased responsibility.
Well, here is the news flash – You’re Not Alone. Most of us struggle with the label of Subject
Matter Expert… and we should! That is a big, scary title that carries a lot with it!
So before we go down that road, some questions to ponder;
1. Who felt like they were a full-fledged firefighter after recruit training? How about after
probation? …”Nothing more for me to learn!”
2. Who walked out of 4-day Operations or Technician course and said, “Oh I can run a team
at any Haz/Rope/Water/ Vehicle Rescue incident right now!”…”Bring on the nuclear leak!”
3. Who completed their multiple courses for Company Officer and jumped in the right
seating thinking, “I hope the big one hits tonight and I’m first in! I am ready, willing and
able to place myself, and more importantly, 3 other Sisters and/or Brothers into harm’s
way, based on all my Company Officer expertise”?
Here’s the thing – every one of us has felt that we weren’t as good as we thought we should be. And even with hours and hours of training, practice and actual experience, we still should feel like we can be better – because we can.
We have the opportunity that most don’t – countless hours in the company of other experts, the equipment to train with and the time to do it ( admittedly, some days more than others ). If you identify the gaps in your skillsets or knowledge ( good for you! ) , get after it! Engage those other experts, get more hands-on, give a new technique a try, and delve deeper into the theory.
It’s always nice to train outside of your Job and see how others are solving problems but I can speak to that as well. I have been the SME instructor at a number of other Depts. And after a 2 or4 day delivery, heard the same thing – “I don’t feel like an expert” You’re not….But you will be.
And until then, you keep working, training, trying and learning. It’s what we do.
See ya on the Road