What is... the competency trap?

Is it better to invest in further developing and refining your strengths, or should you go for the tough track and overcome your weaknesses? In other words, if you are not a numbers person, should you invest in becoming one? Or would you be better off focusing your energy on refining your already well-developed language skills?

Most of us prefer the latter. Because it feels so much better to further develop what you are already good at. Without realising it, you may be seeking out those challenges where your strengths will shine, and your weaknesses can be swept under the rug. But that is a dangerous trap.

We fall into that so-called competency trap when we keep doing more of the things that we do well. Ultimately, we become so excellent in those skills that we just do not want to let go of all the hard work that led us to achieve excellence in the first place. But by overinvesting in our strengths, we also take less time to learn other important new skills.

The best way to overcome the competency trap is to frequently push yourself to be a complete novice again and develop a skill that is completely out of your comfort zone. Because, after all, an acquired taste is so much more rewarding and allows you to grow.

Interested in reading more?
Making your way, the (wobbly) road to success and happiness in life and work is published by Lannoo. The book is available in English (original version) and Dutch (translation) and can be purchased at various bookstores. You can also order the book from Amazon, Bol.com,
and Kobo.

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