YES, IT’S QUITE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR A WHILE!
Do you agree that the world is changing at a super fast pace? I find myself constantly having to learn new processes, new ways of doing business, new ways of communicating with my friends and constantly trying to keep up with technology. As soon as I get good at it, it changes again. It is uncomfortable and I feel that I am living on the edge of competence without ever getting there. I used to say: “When I get there…” Somehow, I feel that there is not ‘there’. Now I know that no matter what it is, I am constantly growing.
I have come to the conclusion that I will treat “growing” as my playground. I am constantly learning and getting to the next level. So I may as well enjoy the process. I try to get excited when something puts me in an uncomfortable state as I don’t have the skill, yet. I am willing to learn it and I am aware of the 4 stages of learning.
When I become aware of a new thing that I don’t know about, I am already moving from stage one to stage two. My job is to get to stage four as quickly as possible because I know that this sweet spot will only last for a while until another new thing shows up. So let’s review these four stages.
THE FOUR STAGES OF LEARNING
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice
and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” — Pele
At first, you don’t know what you don’t know. For example of a new technology, maybe you did not even know that this application existed. This is the stage of unconscious incompetence. As you are becoming aware that there is something you don’t know, you have already stepped over that stage. You are not unconsciously incompetent anymore because you have been made conscious that these techniques or processes or new technology exist.
By being introduced to the idea that something exists, you now know that it is possible. You are not skilled yet, but you know it can be done. This is the stage of conscious incompetence. You know it exists and you know you are not good at it yet.
“Not knowing you can’t do something is sometimes all it takes to do it.” – Ally Carter
Then it is conscious competence. Now you start practising and learning how to become good at it. You know what you are doing and your skills become habitual and consistent. You still have to consciously think about how to phrase your thoughts and how to apply the techniques that you have learned but they become easier.
The last stage is reached when the skills become automatic. This is the ultimate goal. Once you are able to make choices without even noticing or thinking about it, you have reached the level of unconscious competence.
Have you ever been at the wheel of your car and arrived at your destination, and thought to yourself: “Am I already here? How did I even get here? I was not even paying attention.” You don’t have to think anymore about what to do when you see a red light or a green light, you just drive and know the route and everything is automatic.
“Every artist was first an amateur.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
Once you have done something for a while, you become unconsciously competent and collect unconscious skills.
“One of the secrets to staying young is to always do things you don’t know how to do, to keep learning.” — Ruth Reichl
There are lots of things in your life that you do automatically. You never have to pay attention while brushing your teeth in the morning. You just do it.
Rest assured. Next time you need to learn something new, continue to practice until you reach unconscious competence, you will get there eventually. You always do. Identify which stage you are at and trust the process.