I’m an adult now, which means it’s now (and every season of my life from this point onwards) adulting season *jazz hands*
And my first order of business for that is (obviously) learning how to drive.
So when the first day I started driving, I thought, ‘Okay, maybe I’m not that bad?’
But the second day, huh, I knew the reality. I was no F1 racer.
But the truth is I got no worse the second day than the first.
It’s that I had progressed through the first stage of incompetence to the second.
What are the stages of incompetence you’d ask? Well, that’s exactly what I’m here for.
They’re a useful way of looking at your skills on a spectrum.
As per Google, “In psychology, the four stages of competence, or the “conscious competence” learning model, relates to the psychological states involved in the process of progressing from incompetence to competence in a skill.”
- Unconscious incompetence – At this stage, you do not realise what skill you’re missing. You’re neither aware of the skill’s usefulness, nor your incompetency at it. You don’t know what you don’t know. Ignorance is bliss.
- Conscious incompetence – This is the stage where you actually realise, damn I’m missing something. You don’t have the skills yet, yet you realise what you need to get there. You can see all of the places where you need to work and improve. Knowledge is pain.
- Conscious competence – You know, but you need to think. You have the skill now, but you still need to think about it in order to do it well. You’ve improved to the point where all of the pieces work well together, but you still need to concentrate to make it all smooth. Mindfulness is key.
- Unconscious competence – You forget how much you know. The skill is so solid and practiced that it feels natural to you now. You don’t even notice anymore all of the different pieces that make up the skill because they all work together so well that it feels like one action. There is no thought, only do. It’s the stage our teachers and experts are in. They start to think this is just common knowledge.
So the next time you’re trying to learn a skill and you feel like you’re getting worse at it, realise that you’re actually getting better at it. That you’re making your way through the different stages of competence.
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