When Do I Outsource My Expertise?

We often outsource our expertise when we feel like someone else knows more about our experience than we do. Finding an expert, a guru, maybe an influencer to confirm or deny what you are doing or feeling is an example of outsourcing your expertise. But what about your inner knowing? What can you do to trust that voice within? Outsourcing your expertise may be necessary at times, but in this episode, we'll encourage you to dig deeper into your own expertise.

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Episode Transcript

Welcome back to Inner Warmup where your inner work begins. My name is Taylor Elyse  Morrison creator of Inner Workout. And you, as always are our expert guest. Thank you for being here. Let's get this party started with a micro practice. And what I want you to do is just to throw some like quick, light punches in front of you. If you do kickboxing, you can do some one, two punches. The goal isn't to literally punch someone, it's to get you moving a little bit, get your blood pumping, get some energy going. And we're going to continue our conversation about expertise and self expertise. The question on the table today is when do I outsource my expertise? And I know that outsourcing is such a business term, don't write this conversation off. We're not talking about hiring someone to do something that you would normally do yourself. We're talking about a type of outsourcing that you are probably already doing. 

You outsource your expertise and your self expertise when you assume that someone else knows more about your experience than you do. And right now, you're probably nodding your head feeling like oh, yeah, she's right. I guess I do outsource my expertise sometimes because I definitely have moments where I assume that other people know more than I do. Here's some concrete examples of where that can take place. That can be in medicine and speaking very broadly, generally the more marginalized you are, the more you can experience this, this temptation to outsource your self expertise, because so much of the way the medical establishment works wasn't necessarily built with marginalized folks in mind. So an example is with women. I was just reading an article about how cramps can sometimes be almost as painful as a heart attack. 

A heart attack. Yeah. And yet it still happens. Honestly, I was gonna say people back in the day, but even people now can dismiss it, oh, it's just cramps, oh, they're just being dramatic or they're being hysterical, which is a gendered term related to women's relationship to their bodies and in some cases to pain. And then, when it comes to Black folks, since I can speak from that perspective specifically, there's documented racial bias that can happen. Where if me or one of my family members who are also Black go to a doctor, they're experiencing pain, the treatment that they get for pain management could look very different from the treatment that you get if you are not also a Black person because of these biases on how different folks experience pain that is really rooted in racism, and white supremacy. 

So if you are entering a system that wasn't built with you in mind, and you know, I am in pain, but you have this person who's gone to school for years and years and may have years and years of experience. It's so easy to say, okay, well, I'm experiencing this excruciating pain, but they're telling me I shouldn't be worried about it. So I guess I'm just going to trust them instead. And I know people who have had that experience with really, really difficult and terrible results. And this is not to blame them. Actually, these people advocated and had to keep pushing back. They actually didn't fully outsource their self expertise. 

They said no, something's wrong and I'm going to find a different doctor until I get someone who's going to listen to me because I know myself and I know that there's something wrong. But I'm just offering this as an example of a place where this can happen. I had a situation where I was sick for months and I kept going back to the doctor and they kept telling me it was different things until it became something, or well, it didn't become…they discovered it was something kind of serious. And I was young, it was my freshman year of college. I assumed all these people knew better than I did and thankfully, I kept going back to the doctor. But if I were to experience the same situation now, I wouldn't outsource my expertise in the way that I did in the past. So that's how it can show up in medical environments. But it can show up at work as well. 

My background, part of it is in org development, and employee culture. 

And this definition that gets used that I actually really appreciate for culture is the way we do things around here. But if we're not careful, we can assume that the way that things are done in a work culture are right for us. So maybe you're introverted, but the culture tends to favor people who are extroverted, or you're really visual, but the culture is really focused on writing super detailed notes. Or you know that you need additional prep time but the culture is all about, like spontaneous collaboration. Or you have seen something similar at a past organization but there's a more tenured person who's telling you otherwise. And so you, you say, okay, I'm just gonna defer to them, because they've been here longer. These are all ways where we might know what works best for us at work. And because either the dominant culture at work, or because someone has more experience in a role or at the organization, we can say, okay, I guess I don't know best about my work style so I'm just going to force myself to fit in, however I need to. And that's not to say that we're supposed to be rigid. And that we should say, this is the only way that I can work. But rather, I'm just showing ways where we might say how this just isn't ideal, but I'm going to go along with it without any tweaking or customizing so that it feels more comfortable for me because something must be wrong with me, it couldn't be wrong with them. 

And I’m noticing even as I'm saying this, that I'm getting into really binary terms of right or wrong. And oftentimes when it comes to self expertise, it isn't necessarily about a right or wrong, it's what works for them and what works for me, what works for this team versus what works for that team. So it's, I could nerd out about this for a long time but it's this kind of complex tapestry of understanding yourself, and your needs and the team and its needs. And hopefully, you're in a place where there's psychological safety where you can be honest about that, and have some give and take. But that is probably a story for another day. 

Let me know if you'd be interested in a series on self care at work DMS either me or Inner Workout on Instagram, because that could be really interesting and I have a lot of thoughts about it. 

Next place where you might outsource your expertise is with influencer culture. We see people and it doesn't have to be a literal Instagram influencer, though it might be. But it could be someone like Brene Brown, or it could be a celebrity, or it could be a radio personality or TV personality that you love. And they could be gorgeous and you're just like, they're so pretty. Whatever they're doing to be that pretty, I need to do it. Regardless of whether or not it fits into my schedule, or what feels good in my body. I just trust them more than I trust me. Or they might be super successful and they're flying around on private jets or they have like shareable quotes where you're just like, they know what they're talking about. And so it's easy to just assume well, this is working for them. This is getting them results. 

So it should work for me, right? If only it were that simple. That kind of thinking where we just assume okay, works for them. I'm just gonna fit myself into it. It removes our agency. It removes context. It removes some nuance. And it can get us into this place where we're fitting ourselves into spaces that weren't made for us. 

So it's my turn to turn the mic over to you. And I just told you, like this conversation can get really reductionist, and I'm doing my best not to take it there. So I'm going to give you some time to reflect. And then I've got some closing thoughts to round out this conversation, to hopefully bring some more of this nuance into something that is far more than we can reach the depths of in around 10 minutes. But let me turn the mic to you. When do you outsource your expertise? And as much as you can, try and think of like specific situations, or specific types of people, or specific traits. Is it generally with older people? Is it with people who you perceive to be cooler than you? People who have been to school longer than you? When do you outsource your expertise and with what kinds of people?

Thanks for taking the time to reflect and to share. Like I said, I just want to round this out a little bit more. So it's not bad to hear from others. That's not the point of this podcast episode, it’s not to make you feel bad for listening to the advice and opinions of other people. What I would encourage you to do is to add an additional layer of filter, a moment to pause and reflect before you take on those outside opinions, that external expertise. When you're seeing someone share what worked for them, what didn't work for them? Ask yourself, where's my experience, what experience is theirs? And where does it differ? If someone's giving advice about growing a business, and they're young and unmarried, and you're married with four kids, you've got to filter the fact through, okay, they have a different set of responsibilities. It doesn't mean I can't learn from them, but I just have to remember, okay, they have this different experience

Or when I'm taking business advice, and people, especially white men are telling me, oh, it's just kind of like this. And they might have some really valid advice in the midst of what they're saying but I also have to filter, okay, it sounds like they have access to a different network than me. And it sounds like there are different spaces where maybe they're accepted or seen as the norm that I'm not. 

It doesn't make their advice invalid. I just rounded out by asking myself a couple of extra questions. And this is also important for you to remember when you are offering advice or feedback is to think, and maybe even say it out loud like, okay, I'm happy to share what my experience has been. When I was in your shoes, here's what my situation was like. Here's what my context was, like. I say this all the time, when I talk about starting a business, I was married with a partner who had a full time job with benefits. And that changed the equation of what it looked like to transition into entrepreneurship. So when I'm giving advice, I offer that as part of my reality. And I'd love to see more people start doing the same thing. 

Thank you so much for your time. And thank you as always for your expertise. If you are interested in more nuanced conversations like this, then you're going to want to get on the waitlist for the group chat. Okay, take care!