My mom can make pie. Oh my goodness, can she roll out a crust! And her fillings: Fresh, bright, fruity, gooey scrumptiousness.
Her baked creations are the perfect blend of flakiness and fruit. The crust has invisible pockets of butter, and crumbles gently against your fork. The fruits sings flavor.
Nor can this talented baker reproduce one in a kitchen other than her own. She must be in her Nebraska farmhouse, at her own counter, with her own rolling pin and ice water. (Don’t ask me what she does with ice water, but when she bakes pie, there’s always a bowl of ice water nearby.)
Just once, I’d like to be that fly on the ceiling watching her work, because, you see, my dear mom has…
“The Curse of Knowledge.”
My mom possesses incredible skill and talent, but it’s the kind of expertise that doesn’t translate. She tried teaching me once, but it was if my presence ruined the lesson. If I’m watching too closely, something always goes wrong. I tried filming her once, but you could almost taste the frustration and self consciousness in the finished result. The video turned out great, even funny, and made for a lighthearted memory. But the pie fell flat.
The curse of knowledge alienates people. It does the most damage when you don’t know how to share your expertise.
Is there something you know how to do, that you just can’t put into words, or even video?
Usually, that thing you do so well is so ingrained that you forget there are steps, or that you ever learned how to do it yourself.
If you are affected by this curse, there’s a way around it. All you need to do is show a tiny bit of vulnerability with your customers, readers, and prospects.
Then the curse of knowledge will disappear like magic.
It starts by showing what mistakes you made along the way and how you corrected them. It starts by showing that there was a time once when you were not the expert you are now. You walked a path. You did not just come down from the mountain in all your glory.
“…I was born this way.”
There was a time when you had beginner’s mind, too, and to teach someone a skill or even to pass information along in the way of helpful content, you must remember what that felt like.
Your knowledge is not very helpful unless you can explain what you know in simple words to a non-expert. You know the sayings:
“If you cannot explain what you know or do in simple terms, then you don’t really know it.”
“Teach what you need to learn.”
The beautiful problem: no one knows exactly what you know in exactly the way that you know it.
They haven’t been where you’ve been, they haven’t walked in your shoes, had your experiences and worked with the same people. They haven’t seen the same movies.
You are your own unique creation. A one-of-a-kind recipe.
But if you try, you can share how you got here. Tell just one part of that story and you have a great beginning!
Start there. Share that in your copy or your video or blog, and you will have poked a minuscule hole in that seemingly impenetrable armor of knowledge. You’ll begin to make connections.
When you write about where you’ve been, you add a dash of empathy. Your content becomes trustworthy.
A few weeks ago, I had the rare opportunity to hover over one of the most beautiful islands in the world in a helicopter. I had met the pilot just moments before we lifted off, and I’d never been in a helicopter, let alone brought my family along for the joyride… I was a little nervous.
Helicopters crash, it’s a fact, so how did the pilot calm everyone’s latent, but unspoken fear?
He told us where he’d been.
When Brandon told us we were flying over the Kauai waterfall where the opening of the TV show Fantasy Island was filmed, I recognized it. In fact, when I was a kid, I never missed that show! Of course I knew that waterfall; I could hardly keep from saying, “Da plane! Da plane!
Suddenly, we connected. We discovered that we shared the common memory of watching the Saturday night lineup of Lawrence Welk, Hee-Haw, Love Boat, and Fantasy Island when we were kids.He said he always skipped the Lawrence Welk show because he was out riding dirt bikes or motorcycles before dusk. That comment led to a discussion about how he found his way to flying choppers for news programs on the mainland.
OK, so this was a guy who’s been getting into quasi-dangerous motorized vehicles his whole life — including flying choppers for the nightly news — and lived to tell!
Suddenly, we were in good hands.
See how that works? He gave us a glimpse into his experience and how he came about it differently than most — no military experience — and he built a solid case for his reliability without explicitly saying he’s been flying for 32 years.(He added that later.)
Trust inspires people to take the leap. Trust closes the sale, get you the referral, or earns you a nice big tip.
The effectiveness of your writing, your blog posts, your speeches, and all your interactions with people; all hinge on establishing trust. Yes, you are the expert, but until you share how you got there, you’ll always be a bit of a magician. (Come to think of it, magicians always keep their distance, too. Ever notice that?) You need to show your hands. You need to banish the curse that kills trust.
Bake trust into your content:
- Start with something everyone knows.
- Start with a story about where YOU started.
- Talk about some problems you faced, how you overcame them…and work from there.
The curse of knowledge evaporates when you make a connection with your reader through stories. Those inroads lead to real understanding, inspiration, and ultimately…that closed sale.
I’m still not sure if my mom really bakes all those pies herself, or if she has magic elves working for her, but I can teach you how to increase trust in your content creating skills. If you want to learn how to instill trust in your client relationships and land the really cool freelance jobs, click here.