Friday, June 8, 2012


You may recall that in January we discovered that Big Guy's insurance had been cancelled. It took three weeks to find out why. It took until March to get it reinstated. None of it was our fault.

On Tuesday I went to refill Big Guy's prescriptions, and the pharmacist said the coverage had expired. This was real-life vocab prep for the SAT: now my kids know what paroxysm and acrimonious mean.

But this time we knew what had probably happened, and other than a little bit of STRESS, all was back to normal within 24 hours of non-stop phone calls. Which I will note my husband made, not me. There are many things I am good at, but talking to an insurance company who can't figure out that if you're going to change someone's coverage you really ought to let the person know -- well, you don't want me doing that.

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Years ago, during the Bush administration, there was a lot of talk about family values. A woman I worked with commented, deadpan, "I had four brothers, and when we were growing up we could never find the Scotch tape. So in our family, we valued tape." (This is the same person who once mused, "Have you ever noticed that everything they said would happen when Elvis shook his hips... has?")

One thing I personally value is competence. Oh, I know that's not entirely politically correct, but I do. Some people labor under the illusion that to be competent means you are some sort of expert, but if that's the case then I'm an incompetent mother, writer and human being. No, I think of competence as an attitude that leads to getting things done well.

An example: The team of women who work backstage at Dancer's ballet performances are competent. They don't know how to do everything. But, they:

1. Do not panic when faced with a problem.
2. Come up with several possible solutions, without getting wrapped up in a favorite.
3. Think more than one step ahead.
4. Value the common goal, and let it take precedence over their individual egos.
5. Avoid bickering, gossip and negative commentary.
6. Stay on track with their job, yet keep an eye open for wherever else they might be needed.
7. Take satisfaction in making things run smoothly.
8. Know how to shrug if things aren't ideal.
9. Get help when they need it.
10. Aren't afraid to learn something new.

Oh -- and they have a ready sense of humor.

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When my kids lack confidence, I tell them, "Fake it." If you act confident, people assume that you are, which makes them treat you as if you know what you're doing, which often helps you do it better.

Faking it is not the same as being a fake. It's merely the first step in overcoming insecurity. A little humility helps; admitting, "Hey I dunno how to do this, but I figure I can try!" gets you through a lot of bumps.

Competence is closely related to confidence. Because if you have the right attitude, you can develop the skills you need and learn whatever you need to know to do the job. And if you have the wrong attitude -- well, you can know all there is to know, and still not get the job done right.


  1. Whenever I'm asked my pet peeve, the answer is, "Incompetent people", so we're on the same page there! The "fake it" comment made me smile, too. Years ago, a co-worker was dealing with an issue with a customer and I told her later that I was impressed with how she handled an issue I didn't think she was familiar with. She said, "I learned that from you; always SOUND like you know what you're talking about!"
    I'm glad that hubby was able to get the insurance straightened out for Big Guy. Very frustrating to have this happen again!

  2. I love your list. I have always taught my kids that showing confidence will help in the competence dept. I am printing out the list and working my way through it. Blessings to you and the family today. Rainy Monday here in NC. Trying to work my way through it.