Are You Comfortable Feeling Incompetent? You Should Be.

On a 2017 episode of The EntreLeadership Podcast, Ken Coleman interviewed author and entrepreneur Seth Godin.  Ken introduced him as one of the most brilliant thinkers of our time.

Seth then completed the interview, and he did not disappoint.

He says that if we are to change (hear: grow!) we must be comfortable with feeling incompetent.

Seth continued.

Often people do not change because they don’t want to be uncomfortable and feel incompetent.

He says this feeling of incompetence, however, is often a prerequisite to growth and change. 

People who resist these negative feelings are less likely to grow…less likely to change.

How can we apply this understanding? 

Well, if you are a leader in an organization–which many of you are–one take-away, Seth suggests, is to not be surprised when your people do not immediately embrace the change you want to bring into your company.

You likely hired these people for their competence, so don’t be surprised when they resist the feelings of incompetence that come with new initiatives.  Be patient with them.

Also, as you go forward, hire people who are not only competent, but also curious and humble…in other words, they are willing to go through the negative feelings of incompetence because they value change and growth more than always feeling competent.

It may take a little longer in the interviewing process, but it will be worth it in the long run.

How can I apply this in my personal life?

Be aware of this dynamic any time you are presented with something new (for instance, a planning process like Think Time that is a little different than everyone else…moving beyond mere lines and words and including new techniques like visualization, drawing, and mind-mapping).

Embrace the fact that you may be naturally inclined to resist things that are good for you because you don’t want to feel incompetent.

Have a conscious dialogue with yourself before you say “no” to a great opportunity.

Are you resisting because you are uncomfortable with feelings of incompetence?

Can you reframe the feelings of incompetence to mean that you are making progress toward change and growth?

Can you use this new understanding to set yourself on a new learning trajectory this coming year?

Be encouraged.  Because and not many people are willing to move through the uncomfortable feelings of incompetence, you can quickly set yourself apart from your competition by embracing it as a prerequisite for growth and change.  Embrace this mindset tip, and you are already a step ahead.

What are your thoughts?

What is one thing you have learned that has changed your life? 

Was it uncomfortable at first to learn it?

Are you glad you learned it in spite of your initial resistant feelings?

Please tell us about it in the comments below.

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