Your competence is based on what you can do, along with how well you can do it. Your confidence is what you think you can do. Does competence lead to confidence, or does confidence lead to competence? Both can be true because the concepts are interconnected.

Confidence gives you the willpower to acquire new skills. With practice, your competence grows. Increased competence increases your confidence. Realizing you are capable of learning leads to a desire to learn more. Confidence grows with the acquisition of knowledge.

Competence is more than knowledge; it’s being able to apply knowledge to reach a desired outcome. Understanding how a bike works doesn’t automatically provide the ability to ride a bike. Therefore, competence requires knowledge, skills, and ability.

Overconfidence is detrimental because it stems from a disconnect between what someone believes they can accomplish and what they can actually do. Having an inflated perception of your skill and abilities gets you into trouble when you take on more than you can handle.

Confidence, without competence is bragging. You need confidence to learn whatever you require. But advertising that you can do something you can’t, quickly ruins your reputation. Once you are labeled a talker, rather than a doer, rebuilding your reputation is very difficult.

Fear erodes confidence by causing you to doubt your ability to venture out beyond your comfort zone. Then when your knowledge, skills, and ability stagnate, your competence doesn’t grow. You need to push past fear to maintain your confidence.

Competence is built over time through hard work, practice, and focus. There is no substitute for quality experience. Repetition is the key to learning. The more you do something, the better you get at it.

The appropriate mindset is essential for developing competence. You must be committed to doing an exceptional job. Having a standard of excellence enhances your competence. If good is good enough, your work will be mediocre. Those who have high standards stand out from the crowd.

Acquiring relevant knowledge enables you to understand how and why things are done the way they are. Knowing the basis for what you do empowers you to adapt as needed. Not knowing why you are doing something, makes you more likely to gloss over important tasks.

You develop a strong skill set by learning how to do what’s needed through repetition. The more you do something, the better you become. However, you must have a competent teacher who can show you the right way to complete you task. Learning from someone who is incompetent is pointless.

Seek out teachers who are already where you want to be. Look for teachers who are the best at what they do. You want a demanding teacher who has high standards. Learning from a poor teacher is more than a waste of time. You’ll learn poor skills which have to be undone before learning the proper approach.

The way you excel at what you do is by having high standards. Continually look for ways to expand your knowledge and enhance your skills. Education is a lifelong pursuit. Developing a reputation as being tops in your field will serve you for a lifetime.

Avoid joining the mediocre crowd by becoming outstanding at what you do. People who are at the top of their field are always in demand. Overdeliver by doing more than is expected.

Confidence and competence are interrelated. You need confidence to become competent. As your competence grows, so does your confidence. There are no shortcuts. You must be willing to put in the time and effort required to become competent. Doing so is well worth it.

NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.

NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at or write him c/o this paper.

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