The Peter Principle

The Peter Principle goes something like this:

In any heirachy, an individual will rise to his or her own level of incompetence and then remain there.

The idea is that when you perform well in a role you get promoted. This continues until you reach a level where you are no longer perform well so you fail to get promoted and remain at your level of incompetence.


The Peter Principle reflects a view that individuals have an inborn potential. That success in life is limited by factors beyond their control. Of course you might not reach your potential, but your growth is limited by it.

This idea runs counter to everything we now know about success and how it’s achieved. The idea that your intelligence, or your potential is fixed creates a number of myths that I will explore in the next few blog entries. The first of these being what is refered to as the Greatness Gap.

How does this relate to the Habits of Mind? In brief the Peter Principle describes a situation where a person is confronted by challenges, the solution to which is not immediately apparent. The Habits of Mind describe they ways successful people behave when confronted with these sorts of challenges so they can be overcome.

Leave your thoughts and comments below.



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