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How to be Competent

As I've written before, I think that one of the most important skills one can have is basic competence. It doesn't sound as appealing as programming, writing, or engineering, but it's a rarer skill, and thus more valuable.

Most skills are clearly defined and can be easily taught, which makes them easy to commoditize. Competence, like social skills, is something that's less easy to define and teach. It's more of a personal exploration.

I define competence at the ability to get an undefined task done in an efficient manner. The skills that go into that are primarily time management and ability to learn. Someone who is very competent can take a random task in a field in which he's not an expert, figure out how to get it done, and then complete it. He won't be able to do it as well or as quickly as an expert, but that's not the point. The point is to not be totally helpless when working outside of your comfort zone.

So what does it take to be competent?

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