Circle of Competence

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Just because someone is a successful entrepreneur doesn’t make them qualified to speak about investing, politcs, or current world affairs. Maybe they have experience in those areas but likely these subjects lie outside their circle of competence.

What is the circle of competence? The circle of competence is our areas of expertise built through study or experience. For example, writing and product management are two areas I’d consider within my circle of competence.

I get skeptical when people talk outside their circle of competence. It’s likely that this information comes second hand sources, like a book or a recent conversation, rather than from first hand sources, like experience or extended research. This means that their ideas and arguments aren’t battle tested and their premises may be flawed.

There is merit to talking about areas outside your circle of competence. Talking about topics we don’t know much about is one way of expanding our circle. But it’s also useful to know where your boundaries lie and to be aware when you’re stepping outside that boundary.

June 28, 2021

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