- Step 1: Unconscious Incompetence – Not knowing that we don’t know.
- Step 2: Conscious Incompetence – Knowing about a skill that we haven’t developed in ourselves.
- Step 3: Conscious Competence – Knowing how to demonstrate the skill personally with proper attention and focus.
- Step 4: Unconscious Competence –Automatically applying the skills as second nature.
- Step 5: Unconscious Mastery -Sensing the absence of the skill in others without being able to define it, though able to model the skill for them.
- Step 6: Conscious Mastery – Knowing how to assess the skill and teach it to others.
The parents who read this blog will be familiar with all steps our children take to master the many thousands of skills that are learned in the first few years of life. In fact, we can probably think of a skill for each of the following steps that our progeny are in concurrently.
But going through the steps shouldn’t stop when we become adults. We may not aspire to Conscious Mastery for every skill we work on, but surely we can pick out a few areas where we attempt to move ourselves to the next step. I know that I run through the steps every time I expand my endurance sport skill set. I’m in a very different place in my time trial cycling (fair amount of mastery) than I am in single track mountain biking (don’t quite realize all that I don’t know), but the trajectory is the same.
Don’t limit yourself to physical skills, because the same process goes for emotional and psychological habits as well. With enough consistent, deliberate practice, you can change non-productive thought patterns into new, more beneficial habits. Just put in the work. There’s a lot of deliberate, non-automatic reprogramming that precedes the development of a new habit. When you make the jump from one step to the next, you’ll know you’re making progress. If you progress enough, you can achieve personal mastery in an area once considered a weakness.