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Where Are You Placed In The Hierarchy Of Competence?

If a man can write a better book or preach a better sermon or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, even if he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

 These words simply mean that if you can do something better than other people around you, not just those in your neighbourhood, even though you live somewhere remote and hard to get to, people will put in a lot of effort to get to you. Specifically, this refers to making a path through the wood, often done by beating down the shrubs and plants until they can be walked over.

When I first came across these words some years ago, they hit me right between my eyes. I started asking myself a question about how I could be one of these few people who set themselves apart and what does it take to do so.

In my research of studying these few individuals, call them masters if you will, it became very clear to me that these people were not chasing more than one rabbit, they had chosen one and stuck to it. The question I then asked myself was, “What is my rabbit?” Guess what? My answer was very fuzzy and that’s then that I caught myself out that I was on the wrong path if I wanted to join these few individuals or masters.

Every field you can ever think of, there is what is called hierarchy of competence. This is a pyramid, the top of it – which is occupied by the masters, is about five percent or so and below that is just the rest. The rest is made out of – good, just good, average, less than average and incompetent. What really separates the top from the bottom ones, I hear you ask? Well, to me, the main reasons for one not to reach the top are:

  1. Chasing too many rabbits;
  2. Chasing the wrong rabbit;

Chasing the wrong rabbit is like unrequited love, it’s hell. All you do is spend your days thinking and chasing someone who will never think of you nor chase you back. You’d do anything for that person, and they’ll do nothing for you. Someone once said that unrequited love is like waiting for an airplane at a train station.

I am sure you’ve watched the music idols before where you noticed that someone was so into music, that they loved it so much but the music wasn’t so into them, it didn’t love them back, that’s what I mean. This is choosing a wrong career, the one not suited to your highest strength, and staying at the bottom of that career’s hierarchy for the rest of your working life.

It doesn’t matter how hard you work or how fast you run, but if you’re in the wrong career, forget it. You’ll stay incompetent or average at best, but you’ll never reach the top of the hierarchy. If I had continued as an engineer for a career, I would’ve stayed average until my retirement days. After taking stock of my strengths, natural abilities and passions, I soon realized that I loved engineering but hey, it didn’t love me back as much and I moved on. I started searching for my happy home and I found hence you are reading this article.

So, pursuing mastery is a life-long journey which begins with a high level of self-awareness which helps you choose the correct rabbit – life’s task and then dedicate your life on it. This means in order to create magic in the world, you firstly have to own magic within yourself which is connecting with the highest version of yourself. You have to stop being a fugitive from your highest self. So, the question once again is, “In your current field, Where Are You Placed In The Hierarchy of Competence?” Are you chasing the wrong rabbit. The worst thing to happen to a person is waking up old one day, realizing that you became so good at the wrong thing!

Veli Ndaba is a Professional and Motivational Speaker, Life-Coach and Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Author of three books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on , or +27 83 304 9773