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The four stages of competence

puzzle piecesIt can be useful when beginning to learn a new subject area, particularly a multi-faceted subject area like NLP, to recognise that our competence will grow in stages. Usually this growth is in direct proportion to the amount of focused effort we are willing to invest in this learning. Here we cover four stages of competence as a useful addition to our learning strategy.

Stage 1 we call Unconscious Incompetence because this is where we don't know what we don't know.

At stage 1 we may not even be aware that an opportunity for learning exists. If we are aware of the existence of some knowledge or a skill that we don't posess, we may be unaware of a particularly good reason for acquiring that knowledge or skill, or of it's relevance to us.

Once we have recognised the existence of that knowledge or skill and of the benefits of acquiring it for ourselves we are empowered to move forward to the next stage.

A typical example of this would be learning to drive a car. This learning opportunity only becomes available to most of us once we reach an appropriate age. Before then we are aware that one can learn to drive a motor vehicle, but there are no significant benefits in trying to do so until we can usefully (and legally) use that skill.

Stage 2 is where we move into Conscious Incompetence where we do know what we don't know.

We've already recognised that there is a worthwhile learning opportunity available to us and therefore that there is an area of knowledge or skill in which we are deficient. We can now begin to think about how we are going to constructively address that deficiency and move toward competence.

In the example of learning to drive a car, this is where we would book some lessons with a qualified instructor and start learning the Highway Code.

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