The Charge Part 3 – What is the competency – confidence loop?

Did you ever have a teacher who seemed capable of explaining anything? What about a coworker who could deal with any work-related problem? Such people are as inspirational as they are rare, and that’s because they embody the second baseline drive: competence that was highlighted in the book: The Charge. This point really touches home for me and I wanted to elaborate more in a dedicated post.

Competence is a threefold ability. It means you can understand, perform and, eventually, master whatever you decide to undertake. If you know that you can do these three things, even the most daunting of challenges will no longer seem insurmountable.

Unfortunately, the modern workplace tends to put a damper on competence. In general, employees are encouraged to multitask rather than master particular skills, which essentially short-circuits the confidence-competence-loop. If you never feel competent, you’ll never feel confident, and if you never feel confident, you’ll never engage in projects that might lead to a feeling of competence.

But moments will always arise when competence is required, and if you lack the competence to face those moments, you’ll begin to feel insecure. This, in turn, may lead to self-doubt, anxiety and disappointments.

So you’ve got to reactivate the confidence-competence-loop by setting yourself challenges. There are three criteria for the challenges you set: they should be real (that is, difficult to accomplish), time-bound and observable.

So a basketball player might try to increase the average number of baskets he sinks by five (real) in the fourth quarter (time-bound) and have his coach watch him do it (observable).

Overcoming these challenges will build your competence, which will boost your confidence, which will make you eager to tackle the next challenge. The loop will be back in action.

You can start with a 60-day speed-learning challenge. Take two months to learn a new skill, like how to play your favorite song on the guitar, or how to operate a complicated tool at work. This will kickstart the loop for you.

Interesting reads:



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