Your competence level

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Your competence level is basically an accumulation of internal resources in your past. The more internal resources that you accumulated in the past, the more competent you are. The good thing is that competences accumulate over time, and thus a potential for exponent growth and compounding exists.

Today, in the creative society, competence is the biggest safety and advantage you can really have, and the main source of self-actualization, meaning doing work you really enjoy; and it doesn’t matter if you’re starting your journey as independent entrepreneur, freelancer or are employed.

The higher your competence level is, the more you should be capable of converting internal resources into external resources (money, status…) and consequently you should be more successful in your personal and business life. The bottom lines of a higher competence level should be your better performance in order to create, deliver and capture value.

The best news ever is that inner resources can’t be spent like outer resources. You can always spend money and it’s gone, but once you acquire a skill, you know it forever. That’s why inner resources are that much safer than outer resources.

Inner Resources: Competences à Outer Resources
Knowledge Money
Skills Status
Experiences Contracts

Your competence level (inner resources) consists of the following elements:

Psychological capital

The pure basis of your competence level is psychological capital. In today’s turbulent world, that’s the foundation of your potential capabilities. The ability to adapt quickly, constantly overcome obstacles, stay ambitious, have a wish for developing and acquiring knowledge, have courage, break out of your comfort zone, being resilient, persistent, focused, constantly pushing yourself etc. are all important parts of psychological capital. Without a suitable measure of psychological capital, all other elements of competence are significantly less useful to you and the world.

Possessing some knowledge or having a talent or acquiring a skill doesn’t mean anything if you don’t put it to good use. When you put your competences to use, you face obstacles, resistance, pressure, assholes, etc. and those are the real life situations where psychological capital makes the difference between you making it or not.


Talent means that you have a natural competence for a certain mental or physical activity. With talent, you’re gifted for a certain activity. It means that you learn and master it a lot more easily than others and you are significantly more skilful at it than your competition if you practice enough. We all have our own talents as well as areas we aren’t talented in.

You can diligently analyse your talents by doing a personal SWOT analysis. Talents are an important part of your competence, if not even the most important part, but only if you also develop and capitalize on them. Otherwise talent is practically thrown away. The formula is simple: Use your talents. That’s why the key factor before that is psychological capital. Talented or not, you have to fight and work hard.


Knowledge and IQ

Knowledge means knowing a certain field. It means you have a complete set of information that you imprint into your consciousness by learning, studying, observing or in any other way. ​It’s about understanding information about a subject that you get by experience or study. Knowledge represents the most basic skillset and qualification for a certain activity.

The rarer and the more sought-after your knowledge is, the more you are competent and the bigger is your value on the job market. For example, everyone knows how to make photocopies, but there are significantly fewer independent accountants, and even fewer accounting software programmers. The accumulated knowledge can be a consequence of formal or informal education. Formal education brings an additional paper that holds important value added in certain sectors, especially if this paper is stamped by the best universities in the world.

When we talk about knowledge, we should also mention the intelligence quotient as an important part of competence. IQ significantly contributes to competence, but only to a certain extent. As the book Outliers describes: if your intelligence quotient is below a certain number, you have a much more difficult time succeeding.

But someone who is a genius and someone who reaches a point that is a little higher than the average of intelligence quotient have completely the same chances of success. Of course intelligence, much like talent, doesn’t mean anything on its own. What’s crucial is the use.

In today’s society of information overload, there’s another important component of knowledge. It doesn’t so much encompass the ability of memorizing anymore, since information is easily accessible, but rather how quickly you can find information, analyse it and use it practically.


Skills are your abilities to do an activity well or in a practical manner. The more skills you have and the more they’re developed, the bigger is your competence level. The skills important for the creative society are mostly visionary and creative skills, skills of out-of-the-box thinking, leadership, sales, teamwork, fast learning and negotiation.

For example, if you’re a good negotiator, you can definitely make sure that you get a significantly better payment for the job you do. And the skill of selling yourself perfectly can definitely make this payment even bigger.

Emotional and social intelligence

As part of skills, we should especially highlight emotional (EQ) and social intelligence (SQ). In the creative society, it’s these two types of intelligence that contribute to an individual’s competence as much as the intelligence quotient (IQ). Working with people is very difficult, and if you have a good sense for people and know how to work with them, that’s the basis for the development of many key skills for success. You can easily increase these two types of intelligence on your own, by being proactive (reading the books and applying knowledge).

Experience (to a certain extent)

Experience is the process of getting knowledge or skill from doing, seeing, or feeling things. You gain experience based on an activity, on doing, not reading or talking about something. Experiences are findings that you figure out on the basis of things you go through. Experience allows you to make better decisions.

The more experience that you have, the more correct is probably your subjective reality map compared to the objective reality. And that’s the basis for good decisions. We could also say that experiences are your scars from different battles, helping you to make better decisions in the future. Good decisions are a consequence of experience. Experience is a consequence of bad decisions. Thus there is no experience without scars.

There is another thing called too much experience. Too much experience sometimes leads to the phenomenon of paralysis. When you gain too much experience, you start avoiding sometimes even reasonable risks without being aware of it. This is why when gaining experience, it’s crucial that it doesn’t paralyse you.


Your personal value system is the basis for your decision-making – what you’ll give priority to and spend time on in your life. Together with psychological capital and personal talents, values are those factors that define your potential for accumulating competences. You can be as talented and ambitious as can be, but if you don’t focus on your goals and thus suitably allocate your time, you’ll have a lot of difficulty in realizing your goals, no matter how competent you are.

For example, if partying is higher on your value list than career, you probably won’t allocate much time to progress your career. Consequently, it doesn’t matter how competent you are.

When it comes to the value system, it’s also important that these values are healthy and include a long-term view. If someone is a con artist, for example, they’ll have a hard time being successful in the long run. That’s why integrity also has to be a key part of your values.

Views and beliefs

But we can even take one step back. Your values and decision-making system are the consequences of your views and beliefs. The latter construct your subjective reality map (how you personally see reality) that you’re creating up to the beginning of puberty through primary and secondary socialization. After that, we need a lot of energy to even be able to suitably adjust this map.

Narrow-minded beliefs can have an incredibly negative influence on you capitalizing on your competence, no matter how big or unique it is. For example, if you have the narrow‑minded belief that money corrupts people and you don’t want to be “corrupt”, it will be extremely difficult for you to get rich, even though you might have all the competences for it. But you just won’t go after money.

Consequently, an important part of your competence level are your views and beliefs, which also make a great starting point for your personal growth. Analyse which toxic beliefs are holding you back. The good news is that cleaning up views and beliefs lasts throughout the entire life.

Competence Level

Social capital

Social capital are invisible bonds between individuals, built on the basis of previous collaboration and including the key component called trust. Even though social capital is already somewhat of an internal-external resource, it’s still an important component of your competence.

The more people that you know (or who know you), the more you’re worth, we could say simply. In this, the social capital can be given or inherited or deliberately built. You should definitely work hard on developing networking skills and building your social capital, because it’s no secret that knowing the right people can definitely help you progress much faster in life.

Personal brand

All the things listed above are reflected in your personal brand. It’s generally true that the more competent that you are, the bigger is supposedly the power of your personal brand. Accumulation of your inner resources reflects in your personal brand, which are your name and surname. In today’s world, the biggest part of your personal brand is seen online on all the social networks.

However, it’s not necessary that your competence level can always help you, at least not from the beginning, when you start building your name. There are a few studies that concluded that being too competent compared to others may even decrease your performance level. But in the long run, if you have a high enough psychological capital and emotional intelligence, even this isn’t an obstacle. When you prove yourself that you are the next Bill Gates, everyone will want to network with you.

A brand can also have more power than your actual competence level if you excel at personal marketing. We could say that empty vessels make most noise in the short-term. But in the long run, the brand evens out with actual competence sooner or later. Thus the best combination is to really have a high competence level, including you being good at marketing and selling yourself. At the end of the day, to be really successful, you have to create value (innovate, possess knowledge or skills), deliver (marketing and performing) and capture value (negotiating price).

The conclusion

You, and only you, are the biggest, most important, safest, most reasonable and potentially the most lucrative investment in your life. So invest into yourself and your competence. The investment will definitely pay off and you can’t lose in any way. You’ll always be able to create external resources from internal resources. In order to succeed, you only need one person to believe in you. It’s best if that person is you. So be good and thorough when investing into yourself and your competence!

About the author

Consulting and management coaching

Blaž Kos has managed venture capital investments over the past 12 years and participated in the development of the start-up ecosystem in the region. Today, he advises companies on growth strategies, process optimization, the introduction of lean agile methods and the digitalization of business. In addition to the Slovenian blog, he also writes an English blog, which was selected among the 50 best bloggers in the world in the category of personal and business growth.
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