17. BE COMPETENT.1
In an age of intricate equipment and high-speed machines and vehicles, one’s survival and that of one’s family and friends depends in no small measure upon the general competence of others.
In the marketplace, in the sciences, the humanities and in the government, incompetence2 can threaten the lives and future of the few or the many.
I am sure you can think of many examples of these things.
Man has always had an impulse to control his fate. Superstition, propitiation of the right gods, ritual dances before the hunt, can all be viewed as efforts, no matter how faint or unavailing, to control destiny.
It was not until he learned to think, to value knowledge and to apply it with competent skill, that he began to dominate his environment. The true “gift of heaven” may have been the potential to be competent.
In common pursuits and activities, Man respects skill and ability. These in a hero or athlete are almost worshiped.
The test of true competence is the end result.
To the degree that a man is competent, he survives. To the degree he is incompetent he perishes.
Encourage the attainment of competence in any worthwhile pursuit. Compliment it and reward it whenever you find it.
Demand high performance standards. The test of a society is whether or not you, your family and friends can live in it safely.
The ingredients of competence include observation, study and practice.