We all start with no competence. We don’t know how to do stuff at the beginning, but we all learn to eat, crawl, walk, read, write, draw, etc.

As life progresses we learn stuff. The more we learn and do stuff the more competence we have.  With competence comes confidence, almost naturally I would say.  Through competence you demonstrate to yourself and others around you that you are fit for the job.

When you are competent you shine confidence. You know when you can ace something.  If you don’t know how to do something you naturally don’t have the confidence, it doesn’t mean it will stop you from trying to demonstrate fake competence.

However in life you are often thrown into situations where you don’t have the competence.  The challenge here is to not wreak in fake confidence, nod your head in agreement with your boss, saying you can do it and deep down inside you feel like you are out of your depth.  The challenge is to find the path to competence.

The problem, I see, is not that these people aren’t capable of becoming competent.  It’s more that they are not given the right support and/or fail to communicate where they need help.

In The Testing World

In the testing world it makes me feel sad when people reach out to me, saying they are stuck, they don’t know how to do their job and they don’t know what todo about it.  They then ask me how to do stuff and what they should be doing.

The reality is that they are incompetent and are too scared to admit it.

Sure I could theoretically  help them, to a certain extent.  But in reality I can’t.  I don’t have the time or resources.

The problem often appears to be that they don’t want to admit to their bosses or team that they lack the knowledge and competence.  The act of asking for help is too much. They don’t communicate this out of fear for their jobs - I can partly understand this, but the reality is they are only digging themselves (and their team) into a bigger hole.

They should be talking to their bosses. Asking for help and guidance.  Using the wonderful web. Opening up the communication channels.  This will make them competent.  Instead they are doing nothing, or coming to me, which is ludicrous because I can’t really give them the help they need.

In My Business World

I learn every day. I started with zero business competence, but slowly over time I have grown, gained the knowledge and experience I feel I need.  I have been proactive in learning and improving myself everyday.  Sometimes I do this myself, other times I will get advice and support from others.

My way of doing this is to try things out in small steps.  Do something. Observe the results. Learn. Improve what I do. And repeat.

Small steps lead to small failures or successes. Small is manageable to deal with. It costs less. It’s easier to analyse and understand.

Over time I have become competent and confident with the tasks needed to build my business.

If I don’t want to be an expert in something, I will find someone else to do the job for me. My happiness levels simply dive bomb when I feel forced to do a job that I really don’t like.  This is why I have a bookkeeper.  It is why I have web developers to support me. Etc. I don’t want t be competent in these jobs.

The Danger

The scary part is when there is no competence and way too much confidence.

Think of a sales person confidently over selling a product that the team can’t actually deliver on.  This will only bring problems.

Or think of a big launch of a startup, that ends up flopping because people didn’t actually want or need the product.

Or from a testing perspective, when a tester says they can test something, but in reality they fail to test effectively.

These are confident scenarios, delivered with incompetence.  Obviously not great situations to be in, but the key to a ‘win’ situation is to find that balance of competence and confidence.