Read week


Your Capacity to Act

The fable of “The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg” teaches that in order to get golden eggs one needs a healthy goose. Similarly, in order to act or affect change, one needs to have Skills or Competencies. In short, one needs to have the Capacity to Act.

Today we will discuss the elements of competency and what it means to have a skill.

Imagine you want to play a piece of music on the piano. What do you need to be able to do so? Based on my reading and reflections of life there are three prerequisites that apply not just to piano playing but to all activities. What are they?

  • Motivation – The drive, desire, want, belief, to perform a task. e.g. to play like your favourite piano player
  • Know what to do – The knowledge and understanding of what to do to achieve the result you are after. e.g. the sheet music shows all of the necessary information including the right notes, the rhythm, the dynamics etc
  • The skill and competency – which comes from practice and muscle memory. e.g. to play a piano piece requires many hours of practice to translate the notes on a piece of paper into the beautiful music you desire to play. (Interestingly you may have played many other pieces of music, so have the skill to play, but this particular piece needs to be learned by practice or habit.)

W. Clement Stone, the influential motivational speaker and self-made millionaire called the above set of three elements “The Success System that Never Fails.” There is an obvious parallel between these three points and the KASH mnemonic I shared last time. Knowledge and understanding are common to both, Attitude is closely related to motivation; Skill and competency are also common to both, and  Habit is the practised, automatic skill.

But what does it mean to have a skill or a competency? At one time I taught within the NSW system of Competency-Based Training. I found it interesting and enlightening to learn the components of competency. I hope you do too. Here they are:

  • The ability to perform a task (obviously)
  • (not so obviously) the ability to get yourself out of trouble when you encounter problems performing the task
  • The ability to manage yourself and conflicting priorities – make the time and bring focus to perform the task
  • The ability to manage elements of your environment such as assembling the tools and consumables to perform the task (including your Personal Protective Equipment)
  • The ability to communicate with and influence other people to help or keep away as needed

The above elements need to be applied, not just to the performance of a task, but also to the preparation required to perform the task, as well as the cleanup or tidying up after you complete the task.

Imagine you are baking a cake. How do all of these components of competency apply?

Points to Ponder

  • How easy or difficult is it to manage yourself?
  • How easy or difficult is it to manage your environment?
  • How easy or difficult is it to manage other people?

Copyright © 2021 John Harris