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Four Certainties About Competence

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It’s important that we all look inwards at times to see what we can do to improve. Have you challenged your own perspective lately?

As a reflection exercise, I sometimes like think about something I value from my perspective. Recently I spent some time thinking about competence. Competence means possessing the skill, knowledge, and ability to effectively perform. It provides significance and context for our actions. Here are four things I know about competence.

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1. I am never as good as I think I am.

It is human nature to see things unfold better in our minds than in reality. I never practice missing a 30 foot golf putt in my mind. But when playing, I miss more than I make. When I take time to think through an idea before taking action, I plan for a positive outcome. The basis of self-confidence is belief that we can be successful, the reality is we must fail along the way.

2. I can always improve.

Improvement is a never-ending process because I am not perfect. I am not even close to perfect. Any competence I possess can be improved. I can gain new knowledge, or increase my skill, or invest time in practice. Master pianists have natural talent, but their competence comes from hard work. It is the same with me.

3. I care more about my skills than anyone else.

Others can only judge my competence from their perspective. However, my perspective is more important. My evaluation of myself determines my actions. Do I work to improve, or am I content with my current level of competence? External influences affect my plans, but ultimately from within me comes my motivation to improve. No one can force me to become better without my participation.

4. I must use and improve my competence in order to keep it.

If a surgeon returns from a five year hiatus, would you want to be their first patient for surgery? If I do not use my skills, they will begin to lose proficiency. Some investment of time is required to maintain my level of competence.

Throughout our lives we gain and lose competence based on the decisions we make and the time that we invest. Taking time to reflect on competence has helped me challenge myself. How do you improve or maintain your competence level? We all can improve in some way and many of us let our own self-improvement fall to the wayside. Why is that? Why do we stop taking care of ourselves so easily? Jack Klemeyer explained his thoughts on the issue of putting yourself first.

Personal development means loving yourself. You should make sure that you take care of yourself as well as your character. Feed your body when it needs nourishment, and don’t shame yourself for things you cannot change about your situation. Acceptance is the key to being humble and overcoming adversity. Experiment with your options. Try on new passions, personality traits and other personal touches to see if they might be a source of enjoyment for you. You may come across new ways to express yourself that come naturally and communicate your values with ease. This is an excellent way to present yourself in new, honest ways to others and keeps your personality dynamic. One way that you can do that is to check out some Toastmasters club in your area.

What a wholesome and important concept! If you want to develop your own skills and get better, stronger, and more productive, then you have to focus on yourself. You can’t improve if you’re not putting yourself first, even for a little bit.

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Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown is an executive coach who is passionate about personal development. He works to make a difference in people's lives by empowering them with skills and knowledge that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in. Mark has been coached, mentored, and certified by John Maxwell and his team. This coaching certification allows Mark to successfully coach and train individuals, groups, organizations, and companies.
Mark S. Brown


Executive and Business Coach at New Roads Leadership. A founding partner of the John Maxwell Team. We coach for your personal success!
Mark S. Brown
Mark S. Brown

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