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lesson learned: competence level

Way back when I was young and ready to take on the world, I had the privilege to be assigned to one of the top computer consultants in South Africa.  Leon had a reputation of being really tough and I had no idea exactly how tough.  that being said, I learned from him that any other single person.  Thanks Leon!

On my second day in the department, I was summoned to meet with him  to discuss my computer knowledge.  I walked into this meeting with all of the arrogance that a living person could muster.  Over the next 2 hours, Leon proceeded to educate me, in the nicest possible manner and by the end of the meeting, I was no longer under the impression that I had a great understanding of computers.  I understood that I had a boatload to learn and I left that meeting with a long list of areas that I had to go and study.

Right at the end of the meeting Leon shared with something that I have never forgotten.  The three stages of competence:

  • Stage I- You know very little and you know it
  • Stage II- You have a pretty good understanding, however you unaware of how more there is to learn
  • Stage III- You have a pretty good understanding, yet you know that there is much more to learn

He emphasized that we go through these stages with everything that is new to us.  Therefore just because you are in Stage III in one area, you can be Stages I or II in other areas.  The dangerous level is the 2nd stage because we are oblivious about the damage that we inflict because we do not know what our limits are.  His key message to me was to get through the 2nd stage as quickly as possible.

Lesson Learned:  Get through Stage 2 as quickly as possible!

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