How Competency Makes You Powerful

learning something hard
Could you learn a dulcimer? From J J’s Flickr photostream.

Is there anything you can’t learn? If you want to learn how to build a website, easy. Start Googling.

If you want to even learn from the best universities from the convenience of your chair at home, go to Coursera.

You can learn to speak, program, manage projects, lead people, increase creativity and drive marketing traffic. It’s all out there for you to access. And if you do a little more than the next person, you develop competency and expertise which becomes valuable.

Your own efficiency makes you powerful. You can work sufficiently and converse in another language. But it does require a commitment for practice. And life hasn’t changed since grade school for most people. It’s easier to cruise than practice. It’s easier to build headcount and footprint than learn how to get things done with ease.

Some people feel powerful because they have a lot of people under them. It’s bravado talk to say you have 50 people working for you. It’s even an ego stroke to manage big budgets or have a lot of square footage (see how this company grew then found it inefficient so they ditched the office).

Hugh Macleod has a great article on pillar management and stands behind his statement,

“The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.”

Props cover up for lack of competency. And they steal your power.

When you know how to do something thoroughly because you paid the price in understanding, implementing and testing then your ability to see the nuance helps you make more accurate judgments based in reality. Otherwise you have to depend on other people’s knowledge and assessments.

In the process, you may not even know how to ask the right questions because you’re a nube. You lack competency to drive the design, strategy or decision. And it’s hard to own the project from a position of weakness, vulnerability and ignorance.

Competency makes you powerful, not just because you become self-reliant, but  you can move with deft speed and agility. You don’t need secretaries, layers of managers or other “tools” of people.

You can get to action and execution quickly.

This may mean you have to do a deep dive and try to understand something you were an outsider to. Or you may have to stop wasting time and learn something new, something technical. In the process you empower yourself to go from soup to nuts on actually building something you like.

What are you depending on others for that you can become competent in this next few months?