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Your Level of Success Equals Your Point of Incompetence

We often talk about the need and desire to be a continual lifelong learner, and that the only way we will be different in 5 years from today is by the books we read and the people we meet. It is very simple, what you don’t know, you don’t know. Your greatest limitations are what you don’t know. This is played out every day in our lives, and our level of success is stopped at the point in which we no longer have the knowledge or skill set to keep moving forward. The term for this theory or thought process is called the Peter Principle, coined by Laurence J. Peter in 1969. It is a management or business theory in which we often promote people based on the performance in their current role, and we don’t actually fill the position based on their ability to perform in the newly elevated role. This eventually results in a person being promoted to their highest level of competence and potentially then to a role in which they are not competent, referred to as their level of incompetence. And if an organization does this continually over time, you will have an entire organization of people filling positions who are incompetent to fulfill the duties of their position.

Much like for me in about 2007 or so, as our practice was growing, we were adding people, and more and more clients coming through the door, came more need for improved management and leadership. At that point, my abilities were peaked, and I was failing. I had reached a level of success to my point of incompetency of leading people. We had no non-negotiable core values in which to “stand on”, we really had no purpose or why, other than to keep growing and making money. As veterinarians, and many in small business, and even the corporate ladder environment, we are all great at being vets and healing animals, or great at plumbing a house, or great at riding pens, or great at accounting, or great at coaching junior high basketball or great at our current position, and with success, people are often placed into roles of management or administration, simply meaning, we then have people we have to lead, but no one taught us how to be an effective, caring leader of people as our very precious people are placed in and under our charge to carry out the noble expectations of the enterprise or team.

In pursuit of being a better parent, the same goes for parenting. We are successful at parenting to the level of our incompetence. And prior to any couple’s birth of their first child, none of us really have any clue at parenting, and we often fail many times. We really don’t even fill the Peter Principle, because being successful at being married doesn’t qualify any of us to be parents. And often times people who aren’t successful at marriage bring a child into the world to further complicate the marriage failures.

For me, much like in business, I reached my level of incompetence very quickly in parenting but knew I had to change that. And in that, lays the key for all of us, knowing and fully understanding our level of incompetence, and making the very conscious choice to learn more on the subject in which we are failing at, or maybe not even failing, but not having the best success at. In this world today, we have so much information at our fingertips that can be accessed any second of any day. There are books, Audible, blogs, email lists, posts, virtually nonstop consumable versions and ways to keep learning! Some great options, for example, are for leadership check out Patrick Lencioni or Jim Collins or Dave Ramsey, for Parenting check out my very favorite and the very best Dr. Meg Meeker, for marriage check out Emmerson Eggerrichs or Dr. Les Parrott. Those are just a few. Seek it out! Feed yourself, your inner soul. It’s not what you know, it’s what you learn after you know it all. Your business and family can't go any further than you have gone yourself. You know enough to know you don’t know everything, so reach out for help, reach out to someone who can teach you not just help you! We expect you to!! Happy Leadership Thursday!

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