I’ve noticed a trend lately where people are complaining on social media about what they call “So-called Specialists”. The implication being, that the person has just read a piece of online content that is somehow not up to scratch in their opinion, that the author of this content has no right to be publishing such material, or that have breached some kind of code that says only Elite level practitioners are allowed to produce any content, on any subject, ever.
Well I call, BullShit!
The four levels of competence
I read somewhere once that we fit into one of four competence levels when engaging in any passion, interest or enterprise. It is our responsibility to know where we are on this scale in any of our life endeavours and seek out those that can elevate us to the next. The problem is, that most people gravitate towards others at their level, in order to avoid discomfort and so inhibit their ability to move to the next stage at the pace they’re capable of.
- Unconscious Incompetence
- Conscious Incompetence
- Conscious Competence
- Unconscious Competence
1. Unconscious Incompetence
The stage where you’re trying something new. You’re so new, you don’t even know what you don’t know yet. The ooh look, there’s something shiny stage. This is quite often where passion develops and is seen through rose coloured glasses.
2. Conscious Incompetence
You’re starting to invest some time and effort into your new hobby, passion or career and quickly find that you’ve entered a very steep learning curve.
3. Conscious Competence
You’ve been engaged in your field of endeavour for some time and are building skills that have value. You may already be receiving payment for your efforts in this area. You can recall knowledge at will and use it where necessary to better your life and that of others. You’ve worked hard and enjoy the rewards that come with it.
4. Unconscious Competence
You are a recognised expert in your field. People seek you out for your counsel. You see solutions to problems that haven’t even been asked yet. You’ve forgotten how much you know but always have the right answer when someone asks a question in your field of knowledge. Your new reward is to share your knowledge with peers and other industry practitioners to serve a higher purpose.
No matter where you are in this scale, you should write about your passions. You never know who might find value in your contribution.
A scale of 1 to 10
Looking at it another way. On a knowledge scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is utter confusion and 10 is Super Specialist Savant, it would be easy for someone who is an 8 in a particular topic to judge a piece of content written by a 5 as a piece of trash. But what if a person with a level 3 knowledge found 2 books on the same subject.
One written by Mr 8 and the other written by Mr 5. Despite the greater knowledge of Mr 8, it’s incredibly likely that Mr 3 will relate more to the information written by Mr 5 and that knowledge is more likely to be enacted upon and in this case, therefore has more value. Even if the information is wrong, Mr 3 will have dragged himself up to a higher level of understanding by way of experience.
Hopefully Mr 3 isn’t your brain surgeon.