The Intersection of Great Work and Understanding Your Circle of Competence

Alessio Frateily

Alessio Frateily

Nov 13, 20233 min read

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The Intersection of Great Work and Understanding Your Circle of Competence

Introduction:

Doing great work and understanding your circle of competence are two important factors that contribute to success in any field. In this article, we will explore the intersection between these concepts and delve into how they can help individuals achieve their goals. By combining the ideas of finding the right work to focus on and staying within our areas of expertise, we can maximize our potential and avoid unnecessary pitfalls.

Finding the Right Work:

The first step in doing great work is to decide what to work on. It is crucial to choose something that aligns with our natural aptitude and deep interest. By selecting a field or project that we are naturally inclined towards, we can leverage our strengths and increase our chances of success. Ambition plays a significant role in this process, as ambitious individuals tend to be open to exploring new possibilities and pushing their boundaries.

Understanding Your Circle of Competence:

Warren Buffett's concept of the Circle of Competence provides valuable insights into how we can avoid problems and make informed decisions. The idea is to focus on areas where we have expertise and knowledge, rather than trying to be knowledgeable about everything. Buffett emphasizes the importance of evaluating selected businesses within our circle of competence. This means that we don't have to be experts in every company or industry, but rather focus on what we understand best.

Expanding Your Circle of Competence:

While it is important to operate within our circle of competence, it is also worthwhile to gradually expand it over time. By continuously learning and gaining experience, we can widen our areas of expertise and take on new challenges. However, it is essential to do this gradually and not stray too far from our core competencies. Mistakes often occur when we venture outside our circle of competence without sufficient knowledge and expertise.

The Benefits of Staying Within Your Circle of Competence:

Staying within our circle of competence allows us to focus and excel in our chosen areas. Just like the example of Mrs. B, who achieved extreme success by focusing solely on what she understood best, narrowing our focus can lead to remarkable achievements. By dedicating our time and energy to what we know well, we increase our chances of success and avoid unnecessary risks.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Identify your natural aptitudes and deep interests: Reflect on your strengths and passions, and find a field or project that aligns with them. This will increase your motivation and satisfaction, leading to better results.
  • 2. Define the perimeter of your circle of competence: Assess your areas of expertise and focus on operating within them. Be honest with yourself about your limitations and never be afraid to say "I don't know." This will prevent you from making uninformed decisions and help you avoid unnecessary risks.
  • 3. Gradually expand your circle of competence: Continuously learn and gain experience in areas adjacent to your expertise. This will allow you to take on new challenges and broaden your skill set without straying too far from your core competencies.

Conclusion:

By combining the principles of doing great work and understanding our circle of competence, we can maximize our potential and achieve success in any field. It is essential to choose work that aligns with our natural aptitudes and deep interests, while also staying within our areas of expertise. By gradually expanding our circle of competence and continuously learning, we can adapt to new challenges and opportunities. Remember to define the perimeter of your circle of competence, operate within it, and never be afraid to say "I don't know."

Resource:

  1. "How to Do Great Work", http://www.paulgraham.com/greatwork.html (Glasp)
  2. "Understanding your Circle of Competence: How Warren Buffett Avoids Problems", https://fs.blog/circle-of-competence/ (Glasp)

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