The Curse of Ability

A few years back, I heard about “The Curse of Knowledge”. The technical definition refers to this as a cognitive bias that occurs when an individual, communicating with other individuals, unknowingly assumes that the others have the background to understand. In layman’s terms, it means that when you know something, you automatically have a bias toward believing that other people have the same knowledge. Thus, it dramatically changes the way you communicate with everyone about that subject.

We’ve all been stuck in conversations with people that use words we don’t understand or refer to things we’ve never heard of, and nobody likes it. That’s because it makes us feel dumb, out of touch, or ill-informed. Needless to say, we have to be careful how our knowledge makes us communicate.

BUT, did you know that there is a similar and equally damaging curse that relates to our ABILITIES? Yep…and for the sake of my point, I’m going to call it “The Curse of Ability”.

You see, everyone has something (or a group of somethings) that they’re good at. We call these things skills or abilities. Some are natural, and some are learned, but all shape the way we view the ability of others. That means, if we’re good at something, we might incorrectly assume that EVERYONE is good at that particular thing. Most of us have a natural tendency to downplay our ability.

So, what does this have to do with your work life? Well, I’m glad you asked (and I’m glad you’ve read this far to get the answer).

If you live under “The Curse of Ability,” you might miss great opportunities to serve others by assuming that they don’t need your help in your particular area of giftedness. Here’s an example from my life.

I’ve always been a natural public speaker. I rarely get nervous, and have no problem talking in front of a small or large crowd. Growing up, I just thought that was something that everyone could do. Then, I discovered that this ability of mine was actually a very valuable and marketable skill. In fact, I could get people to pay me to speak for them at live events, and on camera as a representative. Yet, this is something I long overlooked due to “The Curse of Ability” I lived under. Making sense now?

What business opportunities, job opportunities, or marketing opportunities are you missing because you’re overlooking your most valuable skills? What assumptions about your abilities are holding you back?

It’s time to break the curse and use the skills you already have to work and live the way you want!

GO DO THIS: Ask 3-5 people what your most valuable skills are. Don’t ask your spouse, your best friend, or your mom. They’ll be way too nice! Ask a co-worker, a mentor, or an acquaintance. They’ll see what’s most obvious. Then, test that feedback and ask yourself, “How can I put these abilities into action for me where I am now, or to get me where I want to be in the future?”

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