Experts don’t exist. Neither do students.

In any field, you will have students below you and experts above you. The students below you are seen as experts by the students below them, and so on. The experts above you are seen as students by the experts above them. Experts and students are the same thing. It’s turtles all the way down.

What makes an expert an expert isn’t that their knowledge comes from some sacred pool of expertise that only they have access to. They haven’t reached a definitive point and transitioned from being a student to an expert. They are always students. They are humble. They barely notice how they are seen by their students because they themselves feel like students.

The defining characteristic of experts is their curiosity. They consistently conduct themselves like students. Experts are experts because they’ve spent a lot of time practicing the act of learning things. They desire to learn and they let their curiosity drive them. They don’t desire to reach the status of being an expert, they simply learn things that  interest them.

Once you draw a definitive line between students and experts, you are forced to identify with one or the other. You decide that you cannot be both at the same time.

Those who identify as students don’t give themselves enough credit. They believe that they haven’t yet reached a defined or undefined tier that will switch their status to an expert. They see themselves on a rung below experts. They see themselves unfit to lead people or give advice because they are merely a student and don’t have enough to teach.

Those who identify as experts give themselves too much credit. They believe they’ve learned as much as they need to know. They believe they are finished learning and they are ready to start teaching people what they know. They believe they have a pool of knowledge that other people don’t have access to. They stop indulging in their curiosity.

But they are the same thing. This is how unimpressive people on YouTube can gain a large audience. This is how any average person can start a blog and change peoples’ lives with their words. This is how a 20-year-old can write a best-selling book before he has accomplished what he plans to accomplish. He learns through the process of being an expert for people while he takes inspiration from people he views as experts.

Don’t be an expert or a student. Be a learner. Be curious.