Thought of the day:
All image, accouterment, support functions, and particular tactics pale in importance to being unrelentingly competent.
--> Competence means (1) being an expert at your core skill/skillset, constantly working to maximize it, and being one of the very best at what you do.
--> Competence means (2) being able to execute and produce results in a prompt, timely, reliable way using your expertise from #1.
If you've got this competence down -- and you work relentlessly to improve it -- then you'll be cut a lot of slack on the rest of the details. If you don't have this competence down or let your skills stagnate instead of grow, all sorts of nonsense is going to weigh heavily on you -- that wouldn't weigh heavily on the more competent man.
What's your expertise? And what are you doing to improve it?
Agreed. And I think it is also true if "people like you" - they will also cut you slack and help you out. Actually in sales a prospect liking me is more important factor in making the sale than any other single factor. Not saying you can be incompetent, but a prospect will buy from a friend who's product is ok over an a*-hole who's product is super competent.
I'd build on that definition and say that unrelentingly competent must also include (3) being incredibly good at inspiring/leveraging the efforts of a team to achieve those results. You have to own your individual competence to do that, but the best projects almost always come from an inspired team.
So you'd put off getting the accoutrement and support systems even longer, until you're leading a team (formally or informally)?
Not sure I fully understand the question, but I wouldn't think of it as putting them off *until* you're leading a team. In fact, the right image, accoutrements, support systems & tactics are all things you can use to build your individual competence (if you choose wisely), and you definitely MUST NAIL your individual competence to be at a point where you can lead a team well, but building unrelenting competence doesn't end at the individual level. That's just the beginning...
I'd argue that the image, accountrement and support-function-worship that we often see is a cargo cult for competence just like owning an expensive sportscar is a cargo cult for truly being rich. Yes, rich people can afford that, but mimicking it will work out poorly for you. Yes, competent people hit the point where they can optimize away all the little details to focus on their Big Thing, but if you're Big-Thing-less, farming out the little details won't help you. You'll just be spending all your time trying *not* to do something you know you suck at while feeling like you *should* be uber-competent since you have systems, virtual assistants and a very expensive desk filing system.
It's an interesting take. Whether it's that you're working on your Big Thing or just a general right direction, I definitely agree that putting your time/energy/focus on the "right things" is more important than optimizing your systems (plus your system gets much better much faster when it's helping you stave off Big Thing issues). But I'm not sure I'd be so down on people about chasing after different images, accoutrements, support functions & tactics - every one of us has to go through a process of trying things out (and often times, failing) to (a) realizing that they aren't serving our long term goals or (b) to get to higher levels of competence.
I would argue that people already *are* doing so. If you look at "Getting Things Done", it's pretty effective. But you'll find that there's an image of that which is separate from the actual effectiveness it adds. People tend to like buying fancy things, putting systems in place and systematizing, entirely separately from the advantages they gain (or don't) from systematizing.
I'm as guilty as anybody of this, naturally ;-)