There are five primary needs that everyone has in common: The need for security, the need for connection, the need to be autonomous, the need to feel competent, and the need to feel worthy. Each of these needs is a core part of human nature. Today we’re talking about the need to feel competent.
The requirement of competence combines the need to believe in yourself with the desire to have others believe in you. You must believe that you are capable of producing the results you want in your life and work, and it’s important that you feel those around you share your belief.
One Thing to Think About
Your ability to feel personally competent is impacted by the knowledge you possess and the success you’ve experienced. Knowing how to do something provides you with a sense of certainty about the process you must follow to accomplish the task at hand. This allows you to feel confident.
It is natural to seek external validation from those around you. In fact, your need to receive recognition from others can be a powerfully motivating factor that contributes to your success in life. Typically, the strategies you’ve developed to meet your need for this external validation will be closely (if not directly) related to the behaviors you’ve been repeatedly acknowledged for throughout your life. For example, if you’ve been given attention for your intellect, it is likely you’ll work very hard to learn and demonstrate what you know. If you were reinforced for your attractiveness, you’ll focus on your beauty. If others recognized you for your humor, you will move heaven and earth to be funny.
As you can imagine, the need to be competent has a profound effect on your personality and your quality of life. It’s important to consciously connect with the tactics you use to meet this need, and even more imperative that you ensure they are empowering you.
One Question to Answer
Ask yourself, how am I furthering my need for competence in the following areas?
Embracing Knowledge. The more you know about the topic at hand, the more confident you will feel. Invest yourself in learning. Commit yourself to continually expanding your knowledge in areas that interest you and be willing to do some research before you go into new situations.
Actively Accomplishing. You have a lot to contribute to this world. You possess talents and strengths that are unique to you. Nurture and apply these attributes! Shrinking from hard work, hesitating to make a focused effort, and failing to apply yourself breed self-contempt. When you clearly decide what you want to accomplish and you begin to take action toward the achievement of those goals, your self-confidence will go up exponentially.
Focusing on Progress. Keep your eye on the progress ball. Give yourself credit for the steps you’re taking and the progress you’re making. Don’t beat yourself up when a bump in the road knocks you down. The habit of focusing on progress will continually fill your experience bank with positive references, which will support your need to feel competent.
Embracing Recognition. It is natural to crave acknowledgement, appreciation, and validation. We all want to be noticed for our accomplishments and contributions. When someone gives you a compliment, don’t just accept it—take it to heart! Allow the full weight of the person’s praise to permeate your head and your heart. Then smile, and say thank you.
One Challenge to Take
1. Define the method you’ve adopted to satisfy your need for competence.
2. Identify at least one empowering and one disempowering behavior related to this need.
3. Consider how you might make the disempowering strategy more positive. How could you shift your approach while still meeting your need?
4. Commit to integrating this improvement into your life.