Consciously Incompetent in a results oriented world

To suddenly realize that I have been walking around in a stupor hits hard. To realize that I have been so insular and absolutely blind to what’s going around me is humbling. To realize that I could have been so much more intentional and present to people around me – to add value to their lives. All wasted opportunities. Yet this is how I feel now – after reading some excellent self-development books and receiving guidance from the 2 people who have oriented me into the world of coaching.

Consciously incompetent. This means I now know that I don’t know a lot of things. It’s the feeling I got when I started learning driving and more recently deep sea diving. However, being consciously incompetent is an opportunity for me to learn and grow so I welcome it. That’s all fine and good – but how do you manage the trade offs of learning in an results oriented world. How do you say “I don’t know and I am learning at the moment” at the workplace? How do you balance your desire to learn yet your responsibilities of outputs at the workplace?

Perhaps we can help ourselves :

1) Being consciously incompetent is not an excuse for saying no. I think this is the first distinction we need to make for ourselves. Just because we know we don’t know something should not give us the license to say “I don’t know so I can’t help”. We could instead say “I don’t know but we could find out together”. I think this places us in a willing learner’s frame and we probably will indeed end up learning something valuable. Plus it shows our genuine desire help make the workplace a better place.

2) Keep learning – everyday. Even if it’s just the meaning of a new word. And more importantly, share your learnings where appropriate. This will show others your desire to learn and improve yourself. And you may genuinely be helping someone with your sharing.

3) Think whole systems and think transferability. Where else can you learn? Who can you engage on your learning journey? Who will be impacted by your learning? What skills/knowledge are transferable between domains/industries? Ask these questions and put some thoughts into practice. Who knows, you might stumble upon a gap in an area of work that no one has noticed.

4) Last but not least, be happy being consciously incompetent because it can only get better from there 🙂