The Circle of Competence – Know your limits

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Why is it important to know your limits? First, it is crucial for you as a person in general. Because doing things where you are good at will spark your motivation to stick to them. And, secondly, knowing what you cannot do is important for your business as well. When should I do the tasks by myself and when do I need to learn? Find out: The Circle of Competence – Know your limits.

Hitting the Boundaries

As some of you know, I put myself in an adventurous chapter of my life. Quitting my job and starting a life as an entrepreneur. For the first time in my life, I am completely responsible for my career. Of course, there are many benefits. I can sleep as long as I want. No rules, like calling sick, requesting vacation and promotion is all up to me. Right now, I am CEO, CTO, COO, and all other C’s at the same time. As a result, I actually learned how to set up a proper term of service for my blog and shop, for example. As a regular web developer unthinkable.

But to be honest, I am also really scared. Not like the anxiety I had before. If I fail, I could actually lose a lot. Let me explain to you my situation.


First, I have this blog. It is running smoothly, I published 40 posts and I have 22 more post-draft in my pocket. But, I can still not live with this. I had to do more. Besides writing posts, I am writing small PDF books for you guys to download (There will be 4 PDFs for you guys). And I am working out how I can get people to buy my Premium Membership. As you can see, I have a lot to do, a lot of features to add, and a lot of posts to write. However, I love this, I love writing, and I love to see how you guys read it and know that you want more. This is the power source that I am sitting here right now, coughing with a fever, writing these lines.

Nonetheless, I can see a wall building up. Writing a post is different than writing a book. Can I do it? Is my English good enough? Also, finding premium members. Do my benefits satisfy you guys? Or should I add more? Questions after questions, insecurity after insecurity.

My insecurities come from a lack of experience I have. I have no basic knowledge of Online Marketing and Sales in general. Those two things are not inside my Circle of Competence.

The Circle of Competence

The Circle of Competence - Know your limits

The Circle of Competence is simple: every one of us has built through experience or study useful skills and knowledge. And this is your circle of competence. Things that you partially know or not at all are outside your circle of competence.

Know your circle of competence, and stick within it. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.

Warren Buffett

Here is the deal. When people try to master a skill outside their circle of competence, they will lose time and effort, and start a lousy career with it. Which comes to our next question: What am I good at? This is a question that pops up once in a while.

Defining My Circle of Competence

advice - The Circle of Competence - Know your limits

So, what is inside my circle of competence? How do I know what skills belong to my circle? Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What am I really good at? What have I always enjoyed doing?
  2. In which field do people ask for my advice? What do my friends envy me for?
  3. And, what am I a real expert at?

We need to break down these questions because it is more complex than you think.

1. What am I really good at? What have I always enjoyed doing?

A typical job interview question but knowing the answer to this question is crucial. For you as a future employee or as a human being in general. To find out your strength you have to do this. First, brainstorm and write down everything you enjoy doing. Second, ask why you are enjoying doing these things.

Let me take myself as an example. I am turning 27 this year. One night at a party, an old friend comes up to me and asks me: ‘ Aren’t you too old for this?’ This question hurt me and makes me think at the same time. She made me realize one thing. Why am I one of the last to go to a party? Is my life meaningless that I have to drink to feel good? So, I went deeper, trying to understand myself. The answer, I am enjoying parties because I love to dance, feel dizzy, and feel the beats on my skin. And more importantly, I love to socialize. I love to see old friends and make new friends at parties. In fact, I am a local celebrity myself. Everyone knows me or at least saw me once. This is the reason I will not stop going to parties.

This is one step to defining your circle of competence. Ask yourself what you enjoy doing and more importantly, why you are enjoying it. Because the answer to this can open your eyes. As a result of the example above, I love to go to parties because I love to socialize. Socializing lies inside my circle of competence. And we can even take a step further. Think about it. When I love socializing all kinds of events, hobbies, or career choices that link to socializing, I will love doing it and I would properly be the best at it.

2. In which field do people ask for my advice? What do my friends envy me for?

Another step to defining your circle of competence is to ask relatives and close friends about your strength. Before asking myself question number 1, I do not realize I am good at socializing until a good friend told me. ‘Your smile is unique bro.’, ‘You really know everyone, right?’ Those statements made me realize my strength. Because I never stated that I am good at it. How can I? I was shy and could not talk to people. But now, I am a master at talking to people except for someone I have a crush on. As a result, my friends nowadays ask me for advice about human interaction stuff. How to express yourself properly or understand the other gender.

A different way to find out your strength is actually the envy of friends. Specifically, among same-gender friends, competition is always present. Logically, envy comes with it. We always strive to get the best and competition is a healthy way to do it. Once someone fails, envy pops up immediately. A friend told me after getting rejected by a girl: ‘You may know a lot of girls but they all friendzone you’ Again a hurtful statement. But another proof that I am good at socializing.

3. What am I a real expert at?

This is a tricky one. By definition, an expert is a person who is very knowledgeable about or skillful in a particular area. But what means very knowledgeable or skillful? What is the measure? If I study card tricks over a night, am I an expert? So, I did some research and found a nice quote to sum up what being an expert means.

An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field.

Niels Bohr

Only a true expert knows how things can go wrong and avoid them from happening. Ask yourself, in which field did I fail so often that I have a solution to every outcome? Add this field to your circle of competence.

Summary – The Circle of Competence

summary - The Circle of Competence - Know your limits

I am confronted with insecurity right now. Because I have tasks to do that lie, not in my circle of competence. Online Marketing, I hate it. I hate posting to social media in general. But making an advertisement for my shop on Instagram? Pure hell for me. I feel like I am hitting the boundaries of my circle. Furthermore, I feel uneasy and uncomfortable in these fields. We talked a lot about the circle of competence and its strength within. But, what about our weaknesses? Or the fields outside our circle? In my case, there is no way around it. And doing it myself will be a disaster. Of course, I could learn how to do it properly. And for the beginning, it should be enough.

Do it yourself?

But what to do when my shop increases in sales? And the tasks, especially marketing, increase? Do I need to master it? The Answer: Hell no. Why should I? Some of my friends have the opinion that doing it yourself is the best way to master something. But I disagree strongly. I rather let a professional do it than do it poorly myself. The solution: Outsource your work that lies outside your circle of competence or use tools. In our modern era, there are many kinds of software for various business models or general tasks. In my case, I will work with Facebook to promote my products and code a Bot to post regularly on Instagram.

It is important to know your circle of competence. Not because it should be nice to know where you are good at. It is also relevant in terms of business. For example, if you never coded before, I do not recommend you to code an online shop. Why? Because you will waste time and at best your product is mediocre. Just because we know the basics of a field it does not mean automatically that we do it ourselves. Not every task should be done by yourself. Do the things that lie inside your circle of competence and the rest by others.




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