Competence includes anything that improves your ability to perform–your knowledge, skills, relationships, resourcefulness, processes, systems, and information. Olympic athletes are not only testaments to the human spirit, they are also living examples of competence. Only when we hear their backstories do we fully appreciate all it takes to build Olympic-level competence. We learn about gut-wrenching daily training regimens, strict nutritional standards, rigorous mental discipline, top-notch training equipment, reams of collected data, various supporting relationships, and even past adversities that motivate the Olympian. It is an intentionally developed set of systems and processes designed to produce a golden victory.
So, here are eight proven ways to help you build Olympic-level competence:
1. Seek feedback on your performance. Building competence requires courage–courage to face the facts. Be ready for what you might hear and be prepared to make changes. It might feel uncomfortable, but it will build your competence.
2. Take baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is our competence. Start with just one new skill, one tool, or one new area of knowledge. Use it until it becomes a habit. First you form your habits and then your habits form you.
3. Listen more than you talk. Remember what Mark Twain said, “If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two mouths and one ear.” When you listen, you learn and also prevent “blind spots”–weaknesses that are apparent to others but not to you. The higher you rise in an organization, the more you must listen.
4. Build your BEST team–Buddies who Ensure Success and Truth. Choose your team wisely. Ensure each member offers the energy, truth, and positive perspective you need to succeed. Connect with your BEST team, individually or as a group, on a consistent basis. Learn from them and help them–it goes both ways.
5. Create it once, use it many times. If you know you will be performing a task more than once, create a checklist, form, or template to save time and improve your consistency over the long haul. No need to reinvent the wheel every time you conduct or coordinate an off-site meeting, prepare a proposal, send out a mailing, plan a new project timeline, etc.
6. Learn along the way. After you complete each task, ask yourself, “What should I Stop, Start, and Keep?” Identify those things that did not go so well (Stop), those you did not do that would have helped (Start), and those that went well (Keep). Continually improving your performance is a powerful way to build competence–it turns good into great!
7. Ask the right questions. The fastest way to change the answers you receive–from yourself and others–is to change the questions you ask. Asking the right questions will get you better answers whether you’re asking them of yourself or of others. The questions you ask will either limit or expand the possible responses.
8. Be decisive! Get 80 percent of the information you need, then make the best decision you can. Don’t let the fear of being less than perfect stop you. Remember, good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
So, start today and go for your gold!