Becoming Comfortable with Incompetence

I think this is one of the most important things you can do.

Change is one of those things that creates an environment in which you are not an expert. It creates a vulnerability that forces us outside of our knowledge base and comfort zone. You don’t know what you don’t know and that’s scary.

If you don’t like the feeling of incompetence, which most people don’t, you will fight the feeling of change.

How many times have you heard someone say “That’s not how we do it around here?” It’s usually not because they don’t care but it’s because they don’t like feeling incompetent.

And when I talk about incompetence, I don’t mean sloppy bad work. I’m referring to the work that matters. The work that is hard, may fail but also may make the world a better place.

At every level of Soundstripe’s growth, I feel completely incompetent for a time. I don’t know how to be a good manager and leader for a larger group of people. I don’t know how to properly hire people. I don’t know what opportunities to say yes to and which ones to say no to. And each project we do has a chance of failure.

And that’s exactly the white space in which we(I)should be playing. Because it’s not about winning every match and being right 100% of the time. Stephen King has many more flops than wins. Amazon has many more failed business ventures than successes. And all you need is one big hit out of 50 songs to change an artist’s life forever.

Change opens doors. Change takes you where you want to go. Change is what drives innovation and creativity.

So if we want to create an environment of change, we must embrace incompetence.