I’ve been thinking about the relationship between competence, expertise & mastery which has recently been renewed by a blog post from @naturalgrump here.
What I’ve noticed is that much of the time our expertise comes out subconsciously but when this happens there is a confidence to our actions that is recognised by others if not ourselves. At other times our expertise is more explicit and understood and again combined with confidence it is recognised. I’m curious about the role confidence plays here so have drafted a model to explore this further.
What this tries to show is some of the observation above but more explicitly how the relationship between feelings of confidence and our actual expertise & knowledge manifests itself.
As I explored the relationship, I perceived a “zone” where we are in essence incompetent. With low confidence we are just INEPT. With high confidence we become DANGEROUS. I’m sure we can all think of examples but car driving is something that sticks in my mind.
However, there comes a stage where you move from incompetent to competent. In essence, confidence doesn’t change the fact that you are competent. I’ve called this PERCEIVED COMPETENCE. This may be perceived by yourself or others. With increasing knowledge & expertise we attain PERCEIVED EXPERTISE and in my mind this ultimately leads to MASTERY. I think the principles are straightforward enough but something funny happens when you throw confidence into the mix…
I’ve come across many examples where the combination of enough competence and high confidence can very quickly move you from PERCEIVED COMPETENCE into PERCEIVED EXPERTISE. I don’t think there’s anything wrong in this necessarily but perhaps you now see why I’ve been using the word “perceived”!
With regards to MASTERY, I don’t think it behaves this way. In fact, without the confidence underpinned by actual knowledge & expertise you can not attain MASTERY. The reality is that very expert people with high knowledge won’t achieve MASTERY without high confidence.
Conscious Competence Model
As you’ve read through this you might have started to think about the conscious competence model. I think there’s some relation here but it doesn’t fully explain the impact of our confidence.
When we act with unconscious incompetence we can assume that our confidence is higher perhaps than thereafter when we know we are incompetent. We can also assume our confidence may increase with competence. This may not be the case though if we don’t feel confident. Also, what is the relationship between unconscious competence & expertise or even mastery?
Below is my interpretation of the overlay but perhaps this can be viewed differently.
This is purely exploration at this stage but it’s helping me think about my own professional development. Perhaps it has an application in a client context.
What would be great is if you could provide your views or thinking on this. Nothing is sacrosanct and I’m happy to be told I’m wrong or that this is old hat!
So what do you think about the above?
What are your thoughts in general about how we attain expertise & mastery?
What role does confidence play in how we our competence is perceived?