Think about someone who is competent AND calm. The combination immediately provides signs of confidence. They tell the world that they will have the current situation mostly covered – one way or the other.
Calmness without competence won’t help much because it might just send a message that they are not serious about their life or work or both
Competence without calmness might might signal hubris or over-confidence or in some cases plain uncertainty
One of the keys to gain unfair competitive advantage is to practice being calm and one of the keys to being calm is to not be on a quest for gaining unfair competitive advantage.
Faking calmness seems easy but it only works in the short-term.
Staying calm is easy in theory but it takes years of practice to get there (more on this later in this article)
Faking competence seems easy but it only works in the short-term.
Staying competent on any topic requires a lifelong investment in yourself in addition to having great mentors and a supportive network in that space. And, in addition, you need to be working on projects related to that topic so that you get the real-world skills. Reading a book on a topic rarely gives you the complete education to stay competent and current on the topic.
A combination of competence and calmness is also not automatic and it’s something you have to “work” to build.
The combination of competence and calmness happens internally first and is witnessed by others rather than the other way around. It’s an inside-out approach. This is not something that you will fake it till you make it.
How do you develop this combination?
There is no shortcut to develop this combination but here is an approach that few of us are taking. It is still a work-in-progress but early results are encouraging:
1. Select the Skills:
Pick one or two skills where you need to develop competence. Yes, you and I know that there is a good chance that you are competent in MANY skills but DEPTH requires choice (to pick a few skills) and sacrifice (to push other skills to the sidelines as “also ran”s)
2. Select the Market:
Find out who needs the benefit of these skills to move the needle on their projects. It seems hard at first because those people who needs the benefit of these skills may not be aware of you or your ability to help them. But this keeps getting easier as time progresses as you build social proof. Ideally, tribal knowledge in your circles should treat you as the default go-to-person for your knowledge of these skills.
3. Take Action that Matters:
Lend your skills (need not be for free but surely at a discounted rate at first) and move the needle. This step is important as the more you do it, the more you will be on the path to develop calmness. You lose your calmness generally when you don’t have a sense of control on the situation. It is impossible for you to get that sense of control in any NEW situation UNLESS you have faced MANY such situations in the past. This is when your “background of obviousness” is so rich that you become comfortable with the uncomfortable – not 100% but enough to keep you calm.
[ Related reading: How to Stay Calm ]
4. Build your Support Network in Parallel:
In parallel, go and find the mentors and other people you need to network within the space and start amplifying work that matters from these people. You don’t need to reach out to them or “friend” them. You WILL be discovered sooner than later if you amplification that you bring to the table is reasonably big.
My Example: Amplification Choreography
For me personally, one of the skills I decided to focus on can be summed up as Amplification Choreography. It is to take a concept, idea, product or service and choreograph its amplification creatively and within the constraints imposed by the situation. Constraints increase the difficulty on one end but on the other end, constraints are what brings out the best of our creativity. Via Foresight Plus, I get to meet and work with really smart people on their ideas. Whatever form or shape they bring their ideas, in general they are looking at one and only one thing – to amplify what they have. Amplification Choreography provides a reasonably satisfactory answer to them. It is a true win-win as the more we help people via amplification choreography, the better I and my team become in that skill. Needless to say, this is also an area where I build my own network as it directly positively impacts all the projects (both for-profit and non-profit) projects that I am involved with.
A quick non-profit example is here: How to Design a Touching Thank You Card