Brian Lee


Skill Level Scale

Skill levels vary widely. When we learn a new skill, we gradually gain knowledge and resolve challenges to improve. However, not many people seem to have an internal scale of what “good” really means. What does it mean for someone to be exceptional?

I am focused on skill development. It seemed important to me that I develop a scale to judge myself accurately and help set goals for honing my skills. I haven’t researched any academic works on this yet, but as I often do, I enjoy developing a theory in a vacuum first and then checking the existing literature to see if I have anything valuable. So, I formed a theory some time ago, hoping to crystallize a skill level scale. This scale is listed in descending order.


You are one-of-a-kind. Just like my opinion on respect — that it should be earned, not given — I believe that having an exceptional skill means you are widely acknowledged by others as being exceptional. No amount of pride or self-proclamation can get you here. The sure sign of being exceptional is when there is never-ending demand for your expertise, and people start saying, “You have to be the one.” Not many people have this kind of skill. Examples include Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Michael Jordan.


Many achieve this skill level through academic accomplishments, physical training, or other efforts. Your skill is well-valued, and there are a small handful of people like you in your field. People have options to consult your peers with similar skill levels, but they are willing to pay for your expertise, making you comfortable.


I think “good” might as well be the average. We gain good skills through sufficient training, but by no means have we mastered a skill. At this skill level, you have learned the foundations and are ready to embark on a lifelong journey toward achieving “great” status. You stand out among novices, but you are easily replaceable, as this skill level is common among those who pursue their interests.


“Bad” is a word with negative connotations, but I think it accurately describes a beginner-level skill. You are still working on the basics, learning the language — what computer scientists call the “domain-specific language” — that embodies the skill you are pursuing.

Copyright 2024, Brian Lee