Unconscious competence

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You, like me, will no doubt be familiar with that awkward, clumsy, frustrating feeling that comes with learning something new? It doesn’t matter whether it’s using a new bit of software or playing the piano. Inevitably that awful recognition of just how badly you’re performing washes over you. But, if you persist and practise, you move into an entirely different zone. And suddenly, the day comes when whatever it is you’ve learnt becomes second nature and you no longer have to even think about what you do or how you do it.

Stop.

If you are telling people about the work you do, you need to remind yourself about precisely those skills (maybe miss out the piano bit, unless it’s relevant). It might be that you’re applying for a new job, or marketing yourself as a self-employed consultant, setting up your own company, or thinking about a radical career shift. The things you do really easily and well are the things you might well miss off your CV or forget to mention in a conversation. Coaching clients of mine over the years have failed to name their own strengths in networking, presenting, writing, persuading, navigating through politics and so on. That is, until they were nudged.

Take yourself back to the drawing board and start again. Put everything in to start with (you can always edit later). Asking a few trusted colleagues for their input might open your eyes to some different perspectives. You will undoubtedly find you know much more than you think and hopefully appreciate how your competence  in a particular area differentiates you from others.

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