If you want to incite a passionate debate among any group of people ask them who the best is in some field or occupation?

  • Who’s the best basketball player?
  • Who’s the best guitar player?
  • Who’s the best ____?

It’s pretty amazing how hot these topics get.

One interesting thing about such discussions is that anyone whose name comes up for consideration as “the best” will also be among the highest paid people in that field.

Why is that? It’s because competence is valuable. It’s also, unfortunately, somewhat rare. Using golf as an example, consider how many people there are in the world who play golf. Now consider how many people actually make a living playing, teaching or coaching golf. How many of those people do it at the highest levels? That last group is a very small percentage of the total number of golf players. They are the most competent people in that particular sport.

People rise to the top of their fields because of competence. Things like one’s connections or a family relationship might open the door to entering a particular field of endeavor but they don’t get you to the top. You only get to the top of your field and stay there through demonstrated competence.

Competence is something you should constantly work on and improve.

A business can improve the quality of its products and services by investing in improving the competence of its staff.

A manager or business owner must constantly work to improve his skill or competence as a manager in order to improve his business.

Gaining the necessary competence to be the best and staying the best takes a lot of work.

  1. You have to be able to look and see what’s in front of you. Sounds easy but consider Blockbuster. They did not actually see Netflix, Red Box and Cable Companies as threats to their business… I won’t beat a dead horse.
  2. You have to learn. Technology is evolving fast. The business landscape changes rapidly. You have to constantly study just to keep up. You have to be able to separate true information from false information. You have to know your stuff well enough to apply it in the real world.
  3. You have to practice. There are varying degrees of skill in any activity. One could study a book on how to paint a house and follow it step by step and end up with a painted house. That does not make one a good painter. Being good goes beyond following along with a book. It takes practice. Being great takes even more practice. The greatest athletes, artists and technicians of any type got to be great by putting in hours and hours practicing and honing their skills. This applies to business as well. You need to practice the skills you need to run and grow your business until you are truly great at them.

These practices can, and should, be implemented in businesses through policies, procedures and training programs.

No matter how you do it, it’s vital that you increase your competence. It’s a very profitable thing to do.