I’m betting you and I are a lot alike because we are both constantly asking “What if?” What if I worked a little harder? What if I worked a little smarter? What if I could learn some things that others haven’t figured out yet? What if I could tweak an existing idea?
The vast majority of what we read and learn is either re-worked, re-stated or borrowed from someone else. I’ve probably had 10 original ideas in my lifetime and that may be a stretch.
The older I get the more I enjoy learning. Actually I love learning. The more I learn the more relevant I become. I like being relevant.
My brain is constantly reviewing information either through reading, communicating with others, observing, or from wherever information comes from, into my mental hard drive. I have a fear of being left behind and I don’t like the view from the rear.
I’m going to be discussing and commenting on what’s commonly known as the “Four Stages Of Learning” plus two others that I know you have never heard of because I made them up. I don’t know where the first four originated, I just know I stole them. All six stages of learning apply regardless of the application. They can be applied in sports, business, social activities, and life in general.
1. Unconscious incompetence-The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn. The more time they are willing to spend learning the skill or activity the faster they move to the next stage. Example: You decide to take up golf so you go out to the driving range and whack at a few balls. 1 out of 10 you make great contact, but you have no clue what you’re doing. You know you love the feeling and you know you want some more of it so you keep returning to the driving range and/or play a few rounds of awful golf.
2. Conscious incompetence-Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage. Example: After going to the driving range for a while and playing a few rounds you begin taking lessons with a golf pro and quickly realize how little you know. You observe others either at the golf course or on video, etc. and the realization of how much there is to this game starts to sink in.
3. Conscious competence-The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill. Example: More golf lessons, more golf rounds played and you are starting to understand the integral parts of the swing. You haven’t mastered the swing yet, but you are starting to strike the ball more consistently, especially when you think it through. It’s not automatic, but your skills are improving as your knowledge starts to grow. This can be the most frustrating stage of the first four. You still have to think about it. When you do, your results are much better and when you don’t, you want to throw your clubs in the lake.
4. Unconscious competence-The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned. Example: You’ve now repeated your golf swing enough times, played enough rounds, attempted enough different types of shots that you can break par or better and have reached a very competitive level. You no longer have to think about the elements of your swing, you just do it. The physical and mental muscle memory is locked in.
5. Competent Incompetence-is the most dangerous of the six. It’s when you have years of experience, know your stuff and have become convinced you have nothing else to learn. (Do you know anyone in the car business like this?) Your success has convinced you that you are “the man,” (or woman) and you are done learning. Seeking more knowledge is the last thing on your mind. What got you to where you are today is what you think is going to keep you where you are and beyond.
6. Learning to be competent-this stage never stops. It’s a life long journey that keeps life interesting and challenging. You know that learning is a journey, not a destination. (That would be you and I.)
The most successful people at any skill, business or activity are the ones who continue to do two things:
1. They keep going back to the basics
2. They continue searching for answers even when they think they already have many of them.
What stage are you in? Only you can answer that. As for me I’m in the “Learning To Be Competent” stage and I hope it never ends. That’s all I’m gonna say, Tommy Gibbs