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Reaching Levels of Performance in Ham Radio

levels of performance

Do you understand your levels of performance across areas of interest? Increasing your proficiency requires effort, and picking the areas where you want to be great.

Back in 1982, Patricia Benner published From Novice to Expert in the American Journal of Nursing. She provided a five point scale for defining and understanding five levels of proficiency. Although written for nursing, I find the Benner scale useful for thinking about proficiency in ham radio and other subjects.

As I show above, we can see in ourselves our levels of performance in various aspects of our hobby. Two things stand out. First, as we increase our levels of performance, we are able to lean on greater experience rather than just theory. Second, we take in more of the entire picture and know which parts are most important to our success.

Our proficiency varies by subject area. For example, I am a novice when it comes to programming an FPGA, and a beginner in designing a transistor circuit. On the other hand, I am a competent user of CAD and simulation tools, and proficient in writing code for Windows or Arduino software. I think I am almost an expert in using wideband loops and diversity reception.

No one size fits all. We set goals and undertake projects commensurate with our level of performance. More complex projects require higher levels of performance in some or most of the subject domains or technical aspects required for success.

We can achieve happiness at all levels of performance. Remember, a project viewed as simple by an expert, difficult for a beginner and a stretch goal for the competent can still be the same project with similar results.

Levels of Performance is a Journey

Reaching higher levels of performance means we move through as many levels as we can. We all start out as novices. We can get to beginner pretty quickly if we try.

But getting to competent requires both learning and practice. Like you, I learn as much from my failures as from success.

Most of us cannot get to proficient or expert in everything. We need to pick our battles. We also need to understand our level of performance in each area of interest, and know when to ask for help.

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