A human mind,
One of the greatest inventions we have received as a gift from the universe. isn’t it?
An invention that can give you a fortune when nurtured and cultivated well.
Also at the same time can disrupt mankind with complete chaos.
But how does it become so competent?
Is it because of what we feed it with our thoughts and feelings?
Is it because of what we do to our senses regularly, the things we see, hear, listen to?
How does it realize what needs to be learned or unlearned, how much time it takes to grasp something at a deeper level?
Have you ever pondered about it anytime?
1 Importance Of Repetition
Why do we remember things like our daily rituals or chores for a lifetime and why do we keep forgetting about some things that we would like to remember.
For Example, we do not forget to brush our teeth, pray to god or getting ready, or feeling fresh. but we keep forgetting birthdays, vehicle numbers, or phone numbers.
I believe it is because of repetition.
Repetition is a powerful exercise, the more you do it, the more you keep doing the same things again and again, it becomes a habit,
And with time your habit becomes a mastery.
One of the best quotes that I can come across in this regard is one by Bruce Lee, The Fighter.
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
I hope we are on the same plane now to understand why repetition is important to gain mastery of something.
2 4 Different Stages Of Learning
Let us go through some of the concepts I have learned recently about learning any new skills.
Whenever you are introduced to something new, we go through a different cycle of learning which we measure through something called “Competence”.
A human mind goes through 4 different stages while learning any new skill set from the beginning to the stage of mastery.
Be it using a smartphone for the first time, learning to drive, hitting out to the Gym, public speaking, or playing a musical instrument.
This is what Noel Burch, an employee of Gordon Training International describes as the “4 states of competence”.
According to this kind of learning model, whenever you are learning a new skill, There are four different psychological states that a human mind has to go through.
In each state, we reach a certain level of mastery either consciously or unconsciously.
Below are the 4 stages of being competent.
State 1: Unconsciously Incompetent
State 2: Consciously Incompetent
State 3: Consciously Competent
State 4: Unconsciously Competent
Now let us go through each one of them with an example
3 Stage 1 : Being Unconsciously Incompetent
Back in the days when you were a child, you must have realized that everything that was introduced there was more of discovery and knowledge.
The first time when you knew that you existed,
The first time when you held a pen or a book. who knows what it meant to be.
Remember the very first time when you saw a toothbrush and the first thing you do with it is either throw it away or put it in your mouth without actually being aware of its use.
what if you start brushing with the pen and writing with the brush.
This is where you start acting unconsciously, without knowing the reality.
This state of mind where you are doing something wrong and you don’t even know you are doing it wrong.
You seem perplexed yet excited about it. this is exactly what happens when you see a smartphone for the first time.
On your first day of driving lessons not knowing how to start the engine.
Just seeing and wandering about it.
This perplexing state of not knowing what you have and what to do is what one calls to be being Unconsciously Incompetent - The first stage of learning any new skill.
At an unconsciously incompetent stage, you learn a new skill mostly from someone else.
4 Stage 2 : Being Unconsciously Competent
Now over a period of time, you finally realized your incompetence. you found a new teacher in the form of your parents.
Your parent, teaching you to use a brush, how to hold them, and guide you through the process of cleaning.
your elder siblings on how to use a smartphone? which mostly they don't.
or a motor vehicle trainer who guides you on the basic driving lessons.
This is when you become conscious of the things around you.
You get to know about objects around you, the simple things that hardly matter but as a learner, wanting to know that things exist.
You start seeing things differently once you are aware of the newly discovered skill-building inside you.
Maybe you have figured out a way to use your toothbrush differently, maybe you got to know the different kinds of phones around you.
The process of discovery at the first stage has in fact made you a little bit more confident and competent at the same time.
Your exploration to experiment has reached up a new level
One thing must be noted here at this stage of learning,
You are only aware of the things around you but you have not actually practiced it.
Yet you develop a feeling of hopefulness and aspirations.
You start to practice it daily, sometimes you fail, sometimes you lose, sometimes you are not sure of what is wrong or right,
But the exploration continues…
This is one of those stages where most of the people give away,
This is where you commit a lot of mistakes, but before you realize and learn from your mistake,
You may go through denial, start ignoring the things you were learning, start excusing about it.
“I am not good enough, I cannot do this.”
Unplug yourself from learning any more.
The realization that you’re doing something badly, and the frustration of trying so hard and still not getting it right, sometimes that’s enough to make us give up entirely.
Most people think of stage 2 as the most uncomfortable phase,
because you recognize the fact that you are a failure in a certain activity,
they leave after a few days of practicing as the fear of embarrassment dominates in not being able to execute.
The fear of feeling the pain of it. The feeling of embarrassment.
Public speaking is one of the biggest fears in people. Have you ever tried public speaking anytime before?
The feeling of not being accepted if you fumble a few words, blackout on the stage after a few words of wisdom.
How would that make you feel, in fact just thinking about it, makes you wonder to never ever try it in your life?
You feel nervous about holding the steering of the car, you start being overly conscious, impatient, and finally become incompetent.
This is a stage that tests your perseverance and determination. The one who sticks to it moves on to the next stage.
Don’t worry, the grass is greener on the other side unless there is no grass.
You might stay here for a prolonged period of time depending on your level of determination and patience.
This state of your mind where you are aware of the tasks around you but you are not competent enough to be successful in the task is know as being Consciously Incompetent.
Studies say that 96% of people spend most of their time learning this skill but fail to master it. Only 4% of them stick to it and finally move ahead becoming skillful enough.
If you believe that you are one among that 4% of people then congratulations you have moved on to the next stage of learning.
5 Stage 3 : Being Consciously Competent .
This is a stage where you already know the stuff,
So you are competent enough to drive a car, play a musical instrument, or have all the skills to start a business.
It is time to put some mindful actions with a definite goal and mission.
The results start showing up with every action you take. This can be a small success but it still works as long as you continue to do it.
You are able to put on your seat belts correctly, drive through the lane confidently,
manipulate the gears correctly holding on to the clutches,
you feel more confident about yourself,
You are always conscious about driving towards the correct side of the lane,
conscious about stopping when the traffic signal goes red.
conscious about staying away from the vehicle affront you.
What I mean to say is, the journey has started and it's time to get some results.
You always keep this in your mind to wash your toothbrush before you put it in your mouth,
to warm up yourself, flex those muscles before lifting out weight, run a few errands, stretch out your muscles before playing a sport.
There is a virtual checklist that you follow before actually performing the deeds.
You find yourself in the improvement of the craft by undertaking repeated practice, participation, and formal training of the new and familiar skill.
This is where you have reached the third stage of exercising your brain to become consciously competent.
Conscious competence can be one of the most rewarding stages of learning a new skill because you can start getting more positive feedback and a sense of mastery as time goes on.
We’ve all felt this way before, though we often forget.
Try to remember what it was like when you first learned how to walk. One day you just stopped falling and that is when you took that 1 giant step of being consciously competent.
6 Stage 4 : Being Unconsciously Competent
Now let's go into the final stage of competence.
This ultimate stage is where everyone wants to be in. It's the level of ultimate mastery that you want to achieve when you first learn a new skill.
This is a stage that requires a lot of repeated efforts over and over again.
Remember Repetition is a powerful exercise.
A human mind develops a habit if you continue to do something the same way over and over again.
Ultimately it requires less conscious efforts each time.
by less conscious efforts, you don't have to think about how to hold a brush next time, it just happens, the hands just fold themselves over the handle.
You have reached a stage where you don’t think about it anymore.
Your body continues to adapt and react effortlessly without even thinking about it.
While driving your car, you are probably thinking about the girl next door or the breakfast you had, or the places you have visited last summer.
Unknowing about the fact that you had already put on the brakes 10 times, changed the gears quite a few times, probably parked a few times, and returned back home.
You are already in a frame of mind where you are doing the right things effortlessly and without even knowing about it.
At this stage, you have already mastered the skills which was a new discovery at the incompetent stage.
You are now able to do things only because of the repeated actions you took over a period of time.
Reaching this stage can be difficult but not impossible. we already are masters in doing small things effectively.
This applies to all aspects of life. Be it learning to drive a car or building a business.
Hence this stage of learning or competence of skill is called to be Unconsciously competent.
This is where everyone wants to be.
7 Final Thoughts
Throughout our lives, we reach some level of unconscious competence in many things.
For most things, we don’t really need to get anywhere close to perfection, so we learn to do things well enough for us to stop thinking about them.
It’s not necessarily bad to be complacent about things, in fact, it’s necessary sometimes.
You can’t be consciously focused on improving everything, because then you won’t get better at anything. It’s just too much.
But it’s worth recognizing that every one of us is constantly making decisions (both consciously and unconsciously) about what we care about getting better at.
Remember You are a learner and learning should never stop.