Confidence and Competence: The Twins

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I used to sell real estate limited partnerships. I had no idea what I was doing. The first thing I did when I got the job was walked up to the number one sales guy in the office and said, “Watch my tracks.” Then I went home figuring I had set up the game.

The next day I discovered that he, being there for two years, had all the good leads and leads were seldom coming in anymore. I needed to create a game and I was a greenhorn. Not wanting to get hurt too badly, I began calling therapists. I figured they couldn’t be too nasty to me, and they weren’t. I didn’t sell to any of them either.

Time was wasting, so I created a new game. My girlfriend at the time, Jacki was very outgoing. She lit up a room just by walking in to it. I printed out a bunch of cards that read, “Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch?” I wedged that card in the property brochures and Jacki started inviting business owners to lunch. She would walk in an office and invite people to a free lunch.

It wasn’t long until I had a weekly luncheon with forty or fifty people present. I had all the leads I needed and within a month or two and I was the number one sales person in the office.

I began with confidence, challenging the number one sales person and then followed up with competence, showing ingenuity, flexibility and the unwillingness to be second best.

A small piece of the math of attention includes the two equations below:

Confidence = time + inattention
Competence = time + attention

As you can see from these equations, the twins, confidence and competence are almost identical except that confidence is dependent on attention being off, and competence is dependent on attention being on.

Quality of attention is always on as you give your attention away. Quality of attention means that you are always and forever building competence.

Confidence has such a big reputation and is touted as a cure all. The whole, “just be confident” thing is just so much BS.

You don’t like people who are confident without competence to back it up. You can’t trust them.

Confidence and competence had a race. Competence won, while confidence bragged about winning.

Quantity of attention is sometimes off and sometimes on. If you are receiving enough attention, then life is good; if you are receiving too little, then life is bad. Good is on and bad is off. When you try and get attention, you are hunting for confidence; when you give attention, you are becoming more competent.

The struggles of most people are the result of quantity seeking attention, which results in a specific level of confidence. If you happen to get some attention your confidence rises without your competence rising. When this happens you become cocky. If you happen to get less attention for a while your confidence drops and you develop a case of low self esteem thinking you can’t do things that you really can do.

When your confidence and competence are out of whack, you suffer. Your mind tries to bridge the gap between confidence and competence, defensively spinning out justifications.

“I was late because I was caught in traffic.”
“I didn’t get the project done because I had a sore throat.”
“I didn’t sleep well because I was worrying about tomorrow.”
“She wouldn’t have gone out with me even if I had asked.”
“The stock market went down because of bad economic

Your mind has what it wants or it has its reasons for why it doesn’t have what it wants – Justifications. Notice as your mind offers you endless justifications.

When you give attention, your competence is constantly rising and it doesn’t really matter how much confidence you have. Your perception of yourself is based on what you are actually doing not on what you think you can or cannot do.

When confidence is ahead of competence you think you can do things that you can’t do – Making your mind a critic of reality. When your competence is ahead of your confidence, you think you can’t do things that you can do making your mind a critic of you.

Either way you are screwed. Because either way you are a critic and the only way out of this bind is becoming a master of attention, which means that you both give and receive
attention freely.

Selling real estate limited partnerships, I learned a lot about giving and receiving. I gave to my clients and I received from them. I didn’t need their attention and I didn’t need them to buy from me. And I gave them attention freely.

With the free flow of attention, our minds relaxed. We didn’t need to defend ourselves. We weren’t adversaries; we were working together. I wasn’t trying to trick them into buying and we became friends. Sales, in the presence of giving and receiving attention, becomes a kind, peaceful process.


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