Are You Okay Being Incompetent?

I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin recently, it was a fascinating view of change and how people naturally view it. In it he talked about how we are all trained as workers to be competent at our job, that is how we are hired, reviewed and retained. If we aren't competent then we usually will find ourselves out of a job. But every time someone asks us to change in our job, when we are asked to step away from what we know to something unknown, we feel incompetent and we fight it. We have to move towards incompetency, then figure out what we don't know, learn it and become competent again. 

There is also a natural part of us that instinctively doesn't like change. In the wild animals have their habits and instincts, they don't change. In the wild if you change you die. There is a part of us that feels the same way. If we don't keep doing our jobs the exact same way we've always done it, somewhere deep in our mind we fear we are going to fail and lose our job. Probably also why it is so hard for us to change a habit.

As a leader, when you are needing to get people to change, to do things differently then they have in the past, the first thing you need to do is get them to be okay with being incompetent and lay out a plan on how they can feel competent again. Change is hard but it is a necessary thing, business is not like animals out in the wild, though some staff meetings might not feel that different. If you aren't changing and growing, you are dying. No organization can remain exactly how they have been and maintain their status, it is impossible. You want to figure out how to get better, maybe you have to figure out how to be incompetent first, just please remember you can't stay there.


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