The Curse of Competence

Ever had that experience where you do all the things…but you don’t feel like you move the needle and you certainly don’t feel accomplished, satisfied or fulfilled because there are always more ‘things’ begging for your attention?  It seems the more you do….the more is asked of you.  By your business, by your family, by your peers, by the world.  We call this ‘The Curse of Competence’.

In my experience it can be the leading cause of burnout.  It comes in layers.  We often feel it all at once, but it does, in fact, happen over time.  It sneaks up on you. Some will say it begins when you start to put yourself behind all the things.  The ‘things’ being your business, your goals, expectations, your loved ones…you name it.  I notice there can be a root cause of not living your priorities, but before that it’s not even knowing what your priorities are.

In previous posts I wrote about ‘The Three Clarities’.  Getting clear on what you want is an important objective.  When we know what we want and we align our priorities with those desires we can take inspired and intentional action; getting caught up in the ‘doing’ vs ‘being’ has less of a chance of taking over.

Living our priorities of who we want to be and how we want to feel allow us to stay in the ‘being’.  We must BE who we know we can be, so that we may DO what brings us joy, and HAVE a life of balance to MAKE more…. More love, more energy, more good, more difference, more money…whatever it is for you.

The trouble with competence is we trick ourselves into the idea that we can do it all.  Perfectionism certainly can play a role for those who have a tendency toward it (Hello from an ever recovering perfectionist).  The bigger trouble often comes when we try to fill the emptiness of our cups only to find it never seems to get full…or so we think.  In taking on all things it’s not so much a problem that we can’t ever get the cup full as much as it is that we are continually making the cup bigger.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I am a lover of achievement.  I am a highly motivated and very driven individual.  I love and I do mean LOVE to work.  I am blessed to do work that makes a difference to those I serve and provides meaningful experiences to me personally.  I can hardly tell the difference between work and play most of the time.  This makes me even more subject to letting the cup get so big I can’t keep it full.  I have explored the edges of balance more times than I can count.

One thing I have learned is those scales tend to tip when I slipped into being more focused on ‘doing’ than ‘being’.  Every time I needed to bring it back into balance it began with coming back to being.  The next step was to look at my cup and get really honest about what was moving me toward my priorities vs moving me away from them.  I had to shrink the cup back to a manageable size and that meant saying no so I could fully say yes to the things that truly mattered.

It’s easy to think we ‘already know this’ and that we are savvy enough to only say yes to things that matter.  But are we?  Are we living that as truth?  It’s one thing to know a thing.  It’s entirely another to actually be in consistent practice of it.  It’s also often easier to say ‘yes’ than it is to say ‘no’, especially when you are driven and an achiever because nearly everything is masked as an opportunity.  We sure hate to miss out on an opportunity. Am I right!?

The key is to get really good at identifying the masks of opportunity.  So many things are actually ‘busy work’ or ways we are leveraging external vehicles for our own sovereignty and sense of self.  Being revered as someone who knows how to ‘get shit done’ can be very seductive, and before you know it you are highly sought after as the doer of all things…and not all of those things serve you.  Our humanness has us not wanting to let people down.  Our achiever doesn’t want to give up the title or the accolades, and before you know it…its do do do, and you get lost in the never ending cascade of ‘opportunities’ and saying yes becomes habitual…automatic even.  It is an interesting and often vicious cycle.

Maybe this is you.. Maybe it isn’t…Maybe it was…Maybe it will be… Now you know the signs and you can overcome it, heal it, avoid it or save someone from it.

Hot Tips:

  1. Evaluate your priorities ( Need Help?  Start here)

  2. Are you living them?

  3. How do you know?
  4. How are you taking care of yourself?

  5. What needs to change?

  6. Engineer your everyday to be aligned with those priorities.

  7. Say no so you can say yes to the things that matter most

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