The Charge: Competence

Next in Brendon Burchard’s list of “10 Human Drives That Make You Feel Alive” in The Charge is the idea of competence – how good you are at what you do.

It’s surprising how much detail he goes into with this; the psychological drives, the economic foundations, it’s quite refreshing to see someone dive straight into something that advanced without embarrassment or apology.

It’s also good to see someone address competence as precisely what it is: education. This goes back to the question of control somewhat; it’s not necessary to control the outcome, so long as you have a mental awareness of what the outcome is likely to be.

That’s what competence is really all about. Anticipation. It’s the ability to go do something with a pretty good idea how it’s going to unfold, which in turn means that when things unfold in an undesirable fashion, you have a pretty good idea what you’re going to do about it.

This is really where control meets random chance. When you go out driving to the supermarket, it’s tremendously unlikely that an eighteen-wheeler will roll over on its way around a corner and put you in imminent danger. But what makes a driver competent is that if this happens, he knows what he should do, how to do it, and what the likely outcome is going to be.

The clearest sign of incompetence is panic – something has happened that you did not anticipate, you don’t know what to do or how to do it, and you’ve no clue how it’s all going to turn out.

Burchard does, of course, have the usual “get a coach” pitch. And it’s true, having someone to help you out is great, but you sort of have to take it with a hefty dose of salt when the professional coach says you should totally get yourself a professional coach.

There’s an exercise he has people do toward the end where you list all the little wins you’ve ever had, the ones you never really stopped to appreciate. Every new skill you learned, all the books you read, the courses you took, the (ahem) coaches you hired, and so on and so forth. It’s similar to the exercise I did a few weeks back about identifying major wins from various areas of your life, except Brendon’s suggestion is  writing at least a page for each year starting with last year and moving back one year at a time.

There’s a common thread in most of the things people like this do: they like to have you write things down. And they’re all the same general kinds of things, too. Even when it’s patently ridiculous like doing “affirmations,” just writing down what you want and then merrily going on about your business, writing things down matters. That’s worth considering, when you look at how to remodel your life into something that doesn’t suck quite as much shit.



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