Escaping the Curse of Competence: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma

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Title Graphic for Hillary Weiss blog post titled Escaping the Curse of Competence: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma.

At least three times in the last week, on sales calls, and with my private clients, I’ve referenced this banger of a quote from Jurassic Park:

Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could*, they didn’t stop to think if they* should*.*”

And, while none of my crew is in the business of resurrecting dinosaurs (yet), the same principle applies to many of us — especially entrepreneurs trying to pivot into a new audience, offer, or discipline.

Entrepreneurs – Don’t Stay the Course When You Should Be Pivoting

Here’s what usually happens:

These entrepreneurs decide to shift their business, positioning, message, and brand to focus on what they do best, what brings them the most joy, and (let’s be honest) what makes them the most money.

And the pivot needs to happen A.S.A.P. because right now?

They’re all over the place for so many reasons, but largely BECAUUUUSE… 👉

… These pivoting entrepreneurs (let’s call ‘em PE’s) have a bunch of clients at a wild range of different needs and levels.

Some need deliverables, some don’t.

Some would get value from the PE’s new focus, and some wouldn’t.

Some invested in offers that sorta fit the pivot, while others (unaware of the pivot) invested in the old stuff.

And, because these PE’s are compassionate and awesome humans, they feel terrible leaving anyone behind.

The other tricky part is? These PE’s are also VERY good at what they do — the old stuff and the new stuff.

They can do the old stuff while blindfolded, upside down, with one hand tied behind their back, in their sleep.

And while they’re great at the new stuff too, they need to move a little more slowly to find their bearings (which means the money might move more slowly, too).

The Pitfalls of Prolonging Change

So they double down. They say: “I can keep doing the old stuff a bit longer!” And the spinning of the plates begins.

This is what I call the Curse of Competency.

The curse that these PE’s are so smart and so scrappy and so able to do anything anyone asks them — they assume they can keep doing All the Things, all at once, for a little bit longer without imploding, right?

Plus, they ideally wanna pivot without a gap in revenue.

So OK,” they say “Just gotta [finish up these projects/wrap these “easy” deliverables/keep supporting these folks] while I focus on selling my new stuff.

And then? The timelines drag on.

The old style projects keep flowing in.

The past-level clients, blissfully unaware of the huge shift happening, keep renewing.

PE’s hesitate to sell ONLY the new stuff, ‘cuz the feeling of financial security never comes.

And so the plates keep spinning until… something smashes.

Resentment and overwhelm build until, eventually, the PE’s implode.

They pushed themselves too hard because technically they could, and now there are shards of porcelain all over the floor, they’ve let everyone down, and no one’s happy (especially not them).

Avoid the Great Plate Disaster with Clarity and Commitment

So, how do we undo the Curse of Competence? How do ultra-competent PE’s like you avoid a Great Plate Disaster?

There’s no perfect science, but as someone who’s been there, and has helped countless mid-pivot entrepreneurs over the years stick the landing, I can offer you this. 👉

You have to acknowledge the season you’re in, and that pivoting is a tricky and inherently uncertain process.

I help my clients stare down this reality every day. We all want certainty so badly, and to make it happen with no lumps or bumps. But it almost never goes that way.

So in lieu of certainty — you need to lock in what “real readiness” feels like to you.

I’m talkin’ real, possible $ numbers and steps that, when you hit them, you will refuse to let yourself move the goal posts on.

There are always reasons not to disrupt your status quo — including technically being “able”.

But the hard calls are unavoidable. There are gonna be horribly uncomfortable “No’s”, right along with ecstatic “YES’s”.

Make no mistake: your competence will continue to serve you. But for this season, your commitment + clarity needs to drive.

Because even if you COULD… you have to commit to drawing the line about whether you SHOULD.

Because that’s what it takes to truly move forward.

Big love,

Photo created in Midjourney

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