Who Knew That Being Incompetent is a Good Thing?

unique abilityI've been thinking about how we strive to be successful in every aspect of our business and often don’t pay much attention to the fact that typically we aren’t good at everything that needs to be done. We push ourselves to be rock stars in areas where we consistently fall short. There was a time when I didn’t understand that there were holes in my skill set and no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t going to be successful. I erroneously believed that if I applied myself with renewed effort or more focus I would be triumphant. Maybe not rock star status but certainly good enough. I thought that being incompetent was a bad thing and any sign of ineptitude meant I wasn’t doing enough to overcome my short comings. About 11 years ago I was introduced to Dan Sullivan’s Unique Ability exercise and in this paradigm he identifies four levels of competency. At the top of the pyramid lives your superstar status, your Unique Ability, followed by Excellence, Competence and Incompetence. At the time, I was totally blown away by this assessment because not only did the Unique Ability exercise change my life, but I didn’t know that being incompetent (in any way, shape, or form) was an option! This new information allowed me the opportunity to think about and identify where I felt incompetent.

Those of you who have heard me talk about this subject might recall the story I tell about how being tasked with collating, copying, or putting pieces of paper in order is something that I am incompetent at doing. It isn’t a good thing or a bad thing, it is simply the reality. In my case, this issue has to do with a mild form of dyslexia that I've had since childhood, which wasn’t identified until I was well into adulthood. And for all the years prior to understanding Sullivan’s protocol, I never connected the dots. For most of my life I tried very hard to be competent at something that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how much I set my intention, or gave my full and undivided attention, I wasn’t successful more than 1 out of 10 times, if that. The bottom line is I was stressed, the process unpleasant, and certainly not the best or highest use of my time and energy. What doing the Unique Ability exercise taught me, in addition to identifying my Unique Ability, is that we can’t be good at everything we do.

This was a very empowering experience because realizing that I didn’t have to be good at everything motivated me to get help and hire someone who was highly competent in areas that I was not. Finding someone who had the necessary skill set as one of their natural abilities made so much sense! If you can identify where you feel incompetent I recommend scraping together the money, the resources, whatever it takes to get help. You're torturing yourself and slowing down the process and it's not serving you, I promise!

If you want to know more about Unique Ability, I suggest reading “Unique Ability, Creating the Life You Want” by Catherine Nomura and Julia Waller. They are protégées of Dan Sullivan and the book will guide you through the process of uncovering your Unique Ability.