I remember being at the end of my second year of college and wondering what the hell I was going to major in. At the time, I was under the impression that what you majored in was what you were going to be doing for the rest of your life. Me, who hates making big decisions, was really stressing out about it. I remember being at a friend’s house and sitting outside with her dad. I started ranting about it and how stressed out I was. I remember him stopping me half-way through my rant and simply said, “It doesn’t matter.” I was shocked. I mean by the size of their house and where they lived, he’d obviously been successful with his career path. He continued by saying, “It doesn’t matter what you major in. Just pick something. The only thing a college diploma does is prove you’re competent to learn.”
Nowadays, it seems real trivial that I spent so much time worrying about my major. On the other hand, what my friends’ dad told me will stick with me for the rest of my life. Not the idea of college and what it is, but instead the idea of competence.
Competence is what allows you adapt to your job, work and ability to be productive. That productivity should, ultimately, make you or your company money. Too many times people are ready to give up on a problem or aren’t willing to adapt to change.
Competence in the work place (and in life) is something that I think many people, and employers, overlook. Competence is the difference of someone who can ‘figure it out’ and someone who gives up. Having skills to do a job is one thing, but every business is different. Every business does things different ways. Are you competent enough to adapt or are you just going to give up. Chances are you won’t last long at that job. I’m sometimes shocked at people’s incompetence in the work place. Let me rephrase that; I don’t necessarily think that the people are incompetent but the confidence to find the answers.
Sometimes it’s as simple as using a search engine to find the answers but people seem to give up or try to find a way around actually doing the work.
It probably wasn’t the smartest idea, but I remember being at a job interview where the woman asked me if I could get something accomplished. I answered, “Yes” (or maybe it was “sure.) She looked at me a little confused and then asked me if I knew how to get it accomplished. My answer was, “No, but I’m competent.” Personally, I think it should be the one thing people try to interview for.
Competence means having an end goal and figuring out the best way to get there. Sometimes I take on websites with features I don’t necessarily know how to do, just so I could figure it out. I talked about it a few weeks ago, but sometimes I like throwing myself in the deep end. Sink or swim. Go big or go home.
Competence is the difference between getting a promotion and getting fire. It’s the difference between making your company money or not.