There are two types of people in the world: those that set out to prove their competence, and those that work to improve their competence.
A great example was Donald Trump. He was clearly a smart enough man to get elected, but he very much focused on proving how smart he thought he was, rather than working to improve his knowledge (or trust those that were smarter in a given niche). This video is a great example of him working hard to try to prove how smart he was:
That said, it can be kind of tricky. If you want to get hired for a particular job, or win the business of a new client, you need to be able to show some competence. You could be a brilliant person that is a perfect fit for a job, but if you can’t show it, it doesn’t matter. On the other hand, if all you do is work on ways to show it, rather than work on ways to grow it, things will fade quickly.
Adam Grant summarized his advice on this pretty well in a recent podcast when he simply suggested that we should “switch from proving your competence to improving your competence.” It’s perhaps easier said than done, but most of us can see through people that constantly fight to prove their competence and appreciate those that spend real time working on improving it instead.
Always be improving.