Identity #3-Competency

Competency is where your natural talents come into play.  Talent is something you are born with and is only dependent upon your “group” in that they can encourage or discourage, help or hinder you. You develop competency when you are pushed to take appropriate risks; that is how you develop the skills necessary to do the task well. Every person needs to feel good about herself; everyone needs to feel he has worth and belonging. Having both, it is possible to not rate very high on the competency scale. You can be a klutz and still have a solid sense of self-esteem. However, if a person is weak on belonging and lacks a sense of worth, competency becomes very important. You can use competency to compensate for the shortfall in worth or belonging. Your competency ccan be a source of nurture to your soul when the need to belong is not being met.

What a person is good at does not seem to matter–just that they are good at something! I felt I was not ready for our daughters becoming teenagers, but they did not consult me! I remembered that I had heard someone advise to make sure your teenager is good at something. It does not matter what. Just put your thumb in his back and make sure he is good at something. That would get him through his teen years intact! I quickly forgot who saidit, but the advice stayed with me. If a child has a knack with computer, help him be the best tech yet. If it is spelling, music, sports, academis, whatever, help your child be able to say, “I’m the best tennis player, diver, runner, stand-up comic, etc. in school!” The one who does well is valued and included–she belongs!

Many people short on belonging and worth use their competency to buy belonging and worth. The teen short on worth and belonging, but competent in football will give his heart and soul to the game. He will play in pain or when he is unwell. The pain or illness pales in contrast to the pain of feeling worthless and not belonging. The adulation from fellow students, the camaraderie of the team, the “atta boys” from the coach–these things far outweigh any pain or illness he may have. He wears his letter jacket to broadcast his belonging and worth to the team.

You see the same pattern in the corporate world. A worker happily takes an added workload or volunteers to head up committees. He drives himself. The job becomes all consuming–worth and belonging are that important. He takes classes to be a more valuable asset to the company. He may display qualifications, accolades and certificates in prominent places in the office. It is another way of saying, “See me,” “Appreciate me.” It is proof to him, and to the world, of worth. Sadly, some sacrifice relationships at home in pursuit of the “atta boy” they never heard as a child. When you depend upon competency to earn love and a sense of belonging and worth, you open the door that leads to burnout, disappointment, betrayal, and failure. Feelings of worth and belonging that come from meeting expectations, performing brilliantly, or reading people correctly are fragile at best.

I will never forget the day I asked my father what he thought I should do for a career. He looked me right in the eye and said, “Kiddo, I think you can do whatever you set your mind to do.” Talk about an “atta boy!” We would love to hear what your experience was? Who “saw you” and said something? Who reflected back to you an accurate picture of yourself that made a difference for you?

Blessings, Carol