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Four Levels of Competence vs. Ability Distinctions

When I mentioned one of the four levels of competence in an earlier article. I received a lot of questions about what the other ones where and how they related to the Excellence Zone™.

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When I am discussing the Excellence Zone™ with and individual or a group, the conversation usually touches on a bull’s-eye diagram that represents a persons range of abilities in any given scenario. This diagram has four levels – Incompetent, Competent, Good and Excellent.

These four levels of ability closely parallel the four levels of competence.

Incompetent in our definition combines Unconscious incompetence and Conscious incompetence from the four levels of competence and would be defined as:

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill, or the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit.

Competent and Good ability distinctions map to Conscious competence, and can be defined as:

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration.

Excellence is closely aligned with Unconscious competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become "second nature" and can be performed easily.

The big insight from the Excellence Zone concept and the Ability Distinctions that sets it apart from the levels of competence is that we recognize that people come pre-wired a certain way from the factory.

We acknowledge that they have natural abilities that make some things much easier for them to learn and master than others.

We also promote the concept of leverage – learning to value and use somebody’s Excellence Zone™ to accomplish your goal.

Robert Kiyosaki of Rich Dad fame says it best – “We are not in school any more. In real life we can do what we can’t in school – we can cheat. Meaning we can have other people do the work for us.”

This quote from Robert, a man that has achieved huge success through leverage and clearly understands his personal Excellence Zone™.

To achieve true excellence/mastery it has to be something that is in part natural ability and a lifetime of love and experience.

Until next time, keep Discovering your Natural Abilities.


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