Do people know when they’re useless at their jobs?

I veer towards being cautious of my abilities in the workplace. Ignoring the short periods of confidence (normally after a successful presentation), I’ve navigated a career path well within my limitations. If staying where i am counts as a career path.

I like being decent at what i do. It feels good to know that you’ll not let too many people down, haven’t over-promised. Generally work would be a better place if everyone took a similar approach. Those with greater ability would move onwards and upwards, guiding the more cautious of us.

From my experience that’s not always how it works. Ambition, confidence and ability don’t seemingly go hand in hand. I’ve always immediately impressed by newcomers with great confidence in their own abilities — enough to buy into it for a few weeks. Then disappointed when it all predictably falls apart.

So either — i’m much smarter than i realise or i work in a place that’s just really difficult to navigate. Or generally the majority of people just aren’t that good, but protect themselves with just enough management speak.

The question that always bothers me — are these people aware that they’re no good and consciously put on an act to get by. Or have they no idea how rubbish they are and just bluster their way through? I’m beginning to think it’s probably the later.

Which is a brilliant position to be in — too daft to have any self doubt or caution. Too limited to work within their obvious limitations. Which in summary makes me the daft one for not pushing on.

I like the idea that there’s a lot of successful stupidity in the workplace — because we’re generally shown brilliant success or horrific failure. Gives people like me hope (because consistent brilliance and application is definitely out of reach). Just need to be less self aware.

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