Photo by Olav Ahrens Røtne on Unsplash

Every year, as part of our company’s culture, we encourage our team members to come up with a word that will serve as a focusing thought for their year. It’s a habit that I’ve had for a long time now (and have written about previously), but I always love hearing what words our people come up with to help guide them on their journeys.

This year, one of our team members chose the word “expertise” and for this reason: he wants to become the expert of his own life.

Isn’t that interesting?

I’ve occasionally been called an expert on leadership, which means I meet people all the time who want me to tell them how to find their way in life. And while I’m all about adding value to others, even going the extra mile to challenge them to change take control of their personal growth by changing mindsets and habits, what I can’t do is prescribe what any specific person should do.

That’s because each person’s journey to personal growth is different; there are principles and practices that apply to every leader’s journey, but there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to personal development. Only you can decide what’s necessary for your journey.

Only you can be the expert of you.

The good news is, it’s simple to do. When I was a young man, I had someone tell me that if I spent one hour a day studying a topic, within five years I’d become an expert. Over time I went from being intense in my studies to being intentional with my life. It’s made all the difference—so much so that I wrote an entire book about it!

Playing off that idea, here are five areas of personal growth where you should be the expert of your life:

  • Purpose—I fully believe everyone has a purpose and lives their best life in service to that purpose. Investing time and thought to identify your “why” is the key to becoming the expert on your life.
  • Values—once you know your purpose, knowing what you value most becomes the foundation on which everything else is built. If you don’t set and keep your own values, you’ll always be at the mercy of someone else’s.
  • Strengths—it’s good to know what you do well but it’s more beneficial to know what you do best. It’s a process that takes time, but when you really identify your greatest strengths, your ability to be intentional increases significantly.
  • Priorities—priorities are a reflection of what is most important to us, so when you know your why, know your values, and know your strengths, you can focus on those things that are in alignment with who you are—and begin to say no to those things that aren’t.
  • Wisdom—this might seem out of place, but you’re the best person to know what wisdom you’ve accumulated through your experiences. Of course, the only way you’ll know what wisdom you have to offer is if you’ve evaluated your experiences to see what lessons you’ve learned!

You have so much to offer to the world; but in order to make a difference, to add maximum value to others, you must first take ownership of what makes you, you.

You must become the expert of your life.

Once you see your value and become intentional about adding value through your unique purpose and strengths, you are on your way to transforming the world around you for the better.

And you can trust me on that. I’m an expert!


  1. Barbara Abang on January 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Great advice. Most appreciated

  2. Todd Wente on January 15, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. The insights are powerful! I particularly appreciate the connection between knowing our purpose and aligning our priorities. May I reference this post in an upcoming blog post I am preparing?

    • Ann Obiorah on January 19, 2020 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks for sharing. So much appreciated. This is such a helpful article to me.

  3. Luis Garcia on January 15, 2020 at 3:47 pm

    Very inspiring.

  4. Boyd Hamlin on January 15, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Great article, John. I’ve selected my focus word for the year based off an equation I penned: Attitude + Action = Restoration. So, my word is Restore-Action. After a year of recovering and pushing my boundaries following my 2nd brain surgery, I’ve felt like I’m starting over again. I’m being intentional about getting back in the game of life. Honestly, in 2019 I battled through a mild depression which the doctor said was coming after the surgery. So, I made it a point to get on the phone with fellow JMT friends and have spent countless hours in the Word to fill the cup back up. Thanks for the article today.

  5. Dan Williams on January 15, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    John you came up with the word “Expertise” . Each one of us has a special purpose on earth. Find it out and use it to make this world better and spread the word. In my case The Word Of God

  6. Dan Williams on January 15, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    John you came up with the word “Expertise”. Each one of us has a special purpose from God on earth. Find out what it is and use it for the good of others and spread the Word. In my case The Word of God

  7. Melissa Huber on January 15, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    John, this is a great concept. I have found that having a word for my year helps me focus on a specific area where I would like to improve. However, I would add to your list of 5 areas the need for perseverance. Becoming an expert in anything requires intentional effort on a consistent basis. A professional football player doesn’t wake up one morning, strap on some shoulder pads and take the field. Rather there is an intentional effort expended over a considerable amount of time to prepare physically and intellectually to play the game of football at a professional level. If we are seeking to become experts in ourselves, we need to approach our plan to become an expert with the same perseverance that a professional athlete pursues being an expert in their particular sport. Nothing worthwhile is easy, it requires focused, intentional effort. But I agree that this concept of becoming an expert in our purpose, values, priorities, strengths and wisdom is a worthwhile pursuit as we seek to become better leaders. Thank you for your valuable insight.

    • Dan Williams on January 16, 2020 at 4:43 am

      This is good. You have to stay focus and active

  8. Augustine Mautin Kiki on January 16, 2020 at 3:09 am

    Great thoughts! Truly, over the years I’ve devoted my life in becoming an expert in three major things. First is teaching. Second is Public Speaking. Third is Leadership/Mentorship. Sincerely r, I can assure you that i’m not doing bad at all in these areas. “Becoming the best atleast in one thing in a lifetime is not a crime.”

    • Dan Williams on January 16, 2020 at 9:52 am


  9. Charles Anane Bayamfui on January 16, 2020 at 11:30 am

    John, your write up always leaves me with something to think over and over. Thank you for bringing this write up at this time of the year.

  10. Stephen P. Gazama on January 20, 2020 at 3:20 am

    Thanks for sharing Father John.

    • Rosemary Naggujja Mugerwa on December 21, 2022 at 5:59 am

      I am amazed. Thank you so much. May God bless you

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