There are seven stages in your trajectory between rank-amateur and industry legend. Where would you currently peg yourself? 

1. Novice:

You've started working, and you're trying to find a career that you like. You may change paths a few times as you find yourself. Everything is new and terrifying. 

2. Working Drone:

You're beginning to build a career, but at this stage, your work consists of reactively taking orders. You know what to do only because someone tells you what to do. You're learning the ropes and discovering your own strengths and weaknesses. 

3. Practitioner:

You have traction. You're gaining momentum. Each day, you're becoming increasingly confident about what you do, and above and beyond learning about your own to-do items, you are beginning to understand the broader industry in which you operate. You take pride in your work and people are noticing your potential. You might no longer be employed, but rather, you are running your own show. 

4. Specialist:

You are no longer reactively taking orders. If anything, you are beginning to pioneer new and creative ways of doing things. You act on your own authority, distinguish bad ideas from good ones, and you've discovered that others are approaching you for your insights and opinions, sometimes even in presentations. You are increasingly doing what you do because you want to do it. It's beginning to define you and give you a sense of self-actualisation. You're qualified to write articles about your topic, and you're considering publishing a book, because you have something to say. 

5. Authority:

The media comes to you for your valuable insights. You speak regularly at conventions and you guide and coach others. You're the author of the book on the topic, and people place your name at the end of the sentence, 'You know who you should talk to about that...?' 

6. Thought-Leader:

You have gone beyond mere 'excellence' in your industry and you have arrived at high-level leadership. You are one of the voices determining where the entire industry is going. You're not one of the performance acts copying Michael Jackson - you ARE Jackson, and the entire industry is following your lead. 

7. Icon 

You've become synonymous with this sphere of life. In the same way that people instantly think of Arnie whenever the topic of bodybuilding comes up, they infallibly think of you when discussing your world. Even years after you've left the industry, yours is the name most strongly associated with it. You've become the Oprah of TV talk-shows. 

Where do you currently rank? Take a look at the next level up, and ask yourself what it might take to get there. What steps could you take this week to propel yourself further from amateur to expert? 


Douglas Kruger is a professional keynote speaker at conferences around the world. He specialises in disruptive innovation and expert-positioning, helping brands to become more memorable than their competitors’. See him in action, or sign up for his motivational newsletter, at Book him to present for your leadership team: email