Competence and Mastery

I had two great bosses at The Williams Companies in 1995 – 1999: David Cordeiro and Gordon Martin (both now very successful at EDS).

David related to me a story I tell over and over again about the levels of competence. It goes something like this.

In the beginning we are Unconciously Incompetent – “We don’t know what we don’t know.” and come across as hopelessly bad at what it is we’re doing.

Gradually we move on to Conciously Incompetent – “We finally understand just how bad we are.” This is where self-awareness becomes a motivator for improvement.

With a LOT of work Concious Competence is achieved. It takes a great deal of effort to become and remain productive.

Finally, mastery seems within reach and is akin to Unconcious Competence. Others might say, “Success just comes so naturally.” David related some basketball and hockey analogies. Scotty Pippen and Michael Jordan just knowing where the other was going to be and making amazing plays. Or, Gretsky just knowing when, where and how to be positioned to outgun the opposing team (every time).

There’s a great book called, “Mastery” and I highly recommend it as a must read. It’s more about the journey and less about the destination.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Apple, competence, mastery

2 Comments on “Competence and Mastery”

  1. Jamin Says:

    I love the post and the model (often Creditted to W. C. Howell). Who wrote “Mastery”?

  2. gwhiz Says:

    Jamin, George Leonard authored “Mastery” in 1992. ISBN for those interested… 978-0452267565

    I highly recommend it.


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