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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?

Urban Explorer - The Old Mine

On Mark Minas

I live in a small town called Brighouse in England. I love it hear with its variation; towns, cities, countryside and of course history. It was May 2013 and i received a blurry photo on my phone. I don't have it to hand but it looked like the edge of a cliff. I called the friend (Richard) who sent it me and he said it was an abandon mine and that we should explore it. it wasn't too far from where we lived. Now before i continue i will tell you that me and some friends love urban exploration. It fascinates me and gives you a glimpse into what life might be like when people disappear. That and it makes for some fantastic photo opportunities.

So one evening i drove to the location where some friends where already waiting. Geared up in cloths i don't mind destroying, several led lights, camera and a flask of coffee. I didn't really know what to expect as i was pulling up to a small makeshift car park in some woods but what i really did fear was getting lost, after all it is a mine. It was already getting dark but that didn't matter, not where we was going. We walked along a trail in the woods to the mine. Seemed forever before my friend said "here we are". Looked around. Nothing. He pointed to the side of a hill no more than 10 meters away. Thats when i saw a slumped over sign. "Danger of Explosion" it said. A gap no bigger than a small window led to what was suppose to be a mine. Well time to get dirty.I slid down the wet and slimy muck. I was in.

Must say i was surprised when i slid down into the side of this hill. It was massive, an arched size tunnel about 7foot in hight but at least 15ft width. My lights wouldn't reach anything solid when i shined my light down this tunnel, yes it was long. I waited for the group to all get in then we did a light check and went over some rules. (1. No smoking or naked flames. 2. Watch your footing and move slowly 3. Stick together.) Part 1&2 where easy but it was clear that 3 was going to be hard. As we went in the size of the cavern started to shrink and the tunnels started to split in several directions. Which way to go? i looked back and tried to remember the entrance in case i got lost then turned to proceed along one tunnel.

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