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What is your unconscious competence?


When you are known for knowing something, your ability to cut through the crowd and get noticed increases exponentially.

In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery or expertise in a field. He cites examples such as:

  • Bill Gates, who used to sneak out of his parents’ house at night to go and code at his Seattle high school
  • The Beatles, who played over 1200 times in four short years in Germany alone before they launched into America.

It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with Gladwell’s theory, the point is that every one of us is an expert at something because whether we realise it or not, we have built up time and hours practicing. Yet we often undervalue our thinking, our experience and our ideas just because we don’t believe in ourselves, we feel like imposters or we don’t think we’ve clocked up enough hours.

Each of you has an equivalent 10,000 hours in something, whether you realise it or not. This is what makes you unique. This is what you can stretch and develop further. This is what you can share with others, and use to create new and mutually beneficial opportunities. This is when the transformative results of true value exchange between people really kicks in.

Natasha Pincus, an uber talented creative and internationally-renowned storyteller (oh and she created the music video for Gotye’s, ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ which has been viewed by over half a billion people around the world) is the author of ‘I am not a Genius and so are you’. She believes that “there is more talent within you, and around you, than you have yet imagined.” She asks the question, “What would happen to you if you were suddenly told that you are a GENIUS?”

Think about this for a moment… how would being told you are a GENIUS affect your self confidence, your behaviour, your conversations and the decisions you make?

What is your area of expertise? Are you really owning it?

Until you own your expertise the reality is that you will never be able to maximize any connections or conversations to their max because you will never be sharing all you have or all you know.

Start standing for something. Start being known for something. Start speaking up and sharing your value and your dreams and what it is that you are looking for. You might be a digital marketing expert, a wordsmith, a philanthropist with a big purpose, an expert at branding who is looking to connect, collaborate and contribute to build mutual success. Equally you might be a skilled graduate looking for a new job, a CEO looking for a Board position or seeking help to navigate the complexities of global expansion. When you are known for knowing something the ability to cut through the masses and get noticed increases exponentially.

Over 20 years ago, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, saw something no one else could see. He has turned Amazon into the world’s No. 2 Most Admired Company (after Apple) and despite being highly demanding, thousands are drawn to his vision and aspire to be work for him.

Bono, the lead singer of U2, uses his rockstar positioning and mass appeal to influence and drive worldwide change. His influence helped persuade global leaders to write off debt owed by the poorest countries. Through his ONE and (RED) campaigns, he enlists organisations and millions of people to combat AIDS, poverty, and preventable diseases.

Since joining forces with the UN’s refugee agency in 2001, Angelina Jolie has undertaken 50 field missions to countries including Iraq, Syria, and Pakistan. Her decision to explain her preemptive double mastectomy in a New York Times editorial created much controversy and yet further illustrated her willingness to take a pubic stand and start the difficult conversation. Former UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said “Angelina Jolie represents a new type of leadership in the 21st century. Her strength lies in the fact that she is able to influence governments and move public opinion at the same time.”

The reality is this. You matter. Every choice and action you take, every word that you speak, has the ability to influence others and in turn, the decisions being made at that moment in time. Your views are unique to you. There is nothing wrong with making your own profile as strong as you possibly can.

Don’t be afraid to be brilliant. Have the resilience to shine and follow your dreams. Walk the talk, own your skills, strengths and goals, commit to the change you want to see and build a network of people around you that want to see you succeed.

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Posted on February 13, 2017

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