Owning up to my incompetence

I know that the dynamics illustrated by the Awareness & Ability Paradigm are always at work in my life. There is always room for improvement; the operative question is… am I aware of my blindsides? The answer is that I am likely not aware of them, which is why they call them blind sides.

I have found that my personal power increases when I leverage periodic assessments to better focus my personal resources on improving the actions and behaviors that are most important. This method directs me to those areas in which I most need to build my competencies. It also frees me from spending precious energy on things that are far less important to my long-term happiness and fulfillment. I am best to avoid seeing this ongoing exercise as a more artfully packaged alternative to constructive criticism. There is nothing constructive about criticism! However, I do believe that non-judgmental feedback regarding my performance in particular areas of my life can be a springboard toward impactful changes in my daily behavior.

During my junior-high and high school years, I lacked any awareness of my incompetence…in school, on sports teams and in social settings. For numerous reasons, I was unable to step back enough from my life to gain perspective on the actions and behaviors needing the most improvement. Consequently, I missed opportunities that warranted my focused effort and attention. I admit that during that time, those things that I needed to START doing as well as those things that I needed to STOP doing far outnumbered the things that I needed to KEEP doing. In racing parlance, I was all throttle and no rudder; incompetency was abundant and unconsciousness defined my most dominant emotional state.

Nothing motivates change in life faster than pain. As a freshman college student at the conclusion of my first semester, my professors unequivocally assessed my incompetence. When my grades arrived at home, my grade-point average perfectly illustrated my incompetence for my father and mother as well. That day was a difficult day for me but, from that point forward my academic life began to change in tangible ways. I was forced to finally admit to myself that I was a horrible student and that I was aimlessly playing the charade of pursuing a meaningful degree that could lead to a sustainable career. As a result of my dad’s regular doses of “tough-love” during the subsequent semester, the difference between who I was and who I wanted to become was crystallized. There was a mountain to climb and at last, I was resolved to climb it!

Fifteen years later and early in my marriage, I vividly remember my wife challenging me to rethink my competency in certain areas of my life:

  • Did people really find me funny or were they laughing at my sarcasm and pointed humor out of self-defense or bewilderment?
  • Was it actually cool to be sociably late for everything or was there a chance that my being ten minutes late for everything was sending the message that I was more important than others?
  • Was my continual embellishment of a story just a more acceptable form of lying?
  • By over committing, could it be that I was setting up myself and those to whom I had made promises for eventual disappointments?

Ann Marie’s honest and loving feedback, along with veiled critiques from others shook me from my emotional slumber and motivated me to regain consciousness. For me, the 360° feedback from the people closest to me coupled with my own intuitions eventually “woke me up” and helped me to recognize my blindsides.

Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t believe that I have to be good at everything. For instance, I hate to paint. For me, it requires far too much prep work and it takes time and attention to detail. Luckily, I know a great guy who loves to paint and he is really talented at it too. Occasionally, I will call him to paint a particular room and when he comes over he does his thing with tarps, rollers and brushes. When he is finished, he cleans up and I pay him. EVERYONE is happy.

Obviously, there are more critical roles in my life within which gaining and maintaining competency is both my duty and my responsibility. Identifying these crucial roles and then getting an honest appraisal of how I am performing in each one has helped me to make dramatic improvements in my outcomes.

I want to always be moving toward higher levels of competence within the core responsibilities in my life. The journey toward competence begins in earnest when I commit to achieving and maintaining my own consciousness. Without fail, when I deliberately foster more sustained periods of balance within me, I become more conscious and attuned to the facets that form the core of my life’s mission. It is from this perspective that I can best determine what I need to STOP doing, what I need to START doing and what I need to KEEP doing, all the while reminding myself that my life works in direct proportion to the commitments that I make and keep.

Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *