Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.
Pablo Picasso (Spanish painter)
Beside the tangible benefits that competent performance can bring (e.g. recognition. financial rewards) it also enhances self-esteem and a sense of achievement. Moreover, psychologists claim that ‘human beings have an innate need to be competent, effective and self-determining’(1) – in other words, doing well feels good. So, we will focus here on what contributes to competent performance.
Precursors to competence
These steps can prepare you to perform competently:
- Practice: competence depends more on how effectively we utilise our abilities (whatever they are) than what abilities we have. Research supports the notion that talent plays a smaller role in an achievement than effort and time put into an activity(2). So, saying ‘I am not good at it’ is just an excuse. The more you practise, the better you will get.
- Doing everything well: trying always to do well regardless of what you are doing and its importance will help you perform competently when under pressure because it becomes a habit.
- Importance: giving too little importance to what you do can make you overly laid back, while giving too much importance can increase anxiety to the point of being paralysing. So try to find your own ‘Goldilocks zone’ in regard to this and keep importance within that range – this simply means taking what you are doing seriously but not too seriously.
- Being your own judge: if your priority is to satisfy your own standards rather than those of others, their praise or criticism can still have a positive effect on your performance but the negative effect will be reduced.
- A good physical and mental shape: if you don’t feel well or are tired or worrying about something, you will hardly be able to concentrate and perform well.