What stage are you at?

Do you ever get frustrated with yourself when you try something new and don’t get it the first time?

Do you hold a belief that you should get it right away?

Have you ever dropped a task out of frustration because it just wasn’t working as it should so forget it?

I know I have, but since I came across the 4 Stages of Unconscious Incompetence while in my coach training I’ve found a way to be able to not only get through the task or lesson easier but to also use the knowledge of the process to avoid self punishment.

Whenever I am working with a client who is putting in a great deal of effort to make a change in their life and they stumble, I bring out the diagram you see beside this post.

When we begin a new task or begin to change behaviours in our lives we are at Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence.  I don’t know what I don’t know.  I do not know enough about the situation to know what I don’t know yet.  You would be here before you learned to drive a car as an example.

Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence: Now I know what I don’t know.  You’ve begun the journey; you’re at the first steps of learning a new skill. Many of us will give up at this stage; this is where the frustration kicks in and often gets the better of us.  You’ve decided to lose weight but begin to realize that you don’t know how to be successful at it and you know little about nutrition.

Stage 3: Conscious Competence:  I know what I know.   You are finally getting good at this thing!! We are not yet experts but we know a great deal about the task at hand and have enough confidence to want to get even better.  As we progress in the new skill we will often move back into unconscious incompetence, master the new aspect and move back into conscious incompetence.  (The old adage two steps forward one step back.)

Stage 4: Unconscious Competence: I’m not aware, and I know.  You’ve mastered it. Here is where you are driving your car on automatic pilot.  You are not even aware that you are doing the task or have changed behaviours in yourself, it just flows.

By integrating this knowledge into one’s life you are choosing to show yourself compassion.  Example; you want to break the old pattern of not honoring boundaries in your life. It is much easier to say to yourself as you stumble,  “It’s ok, I’m past unconscious incompetence and I’m into conscious incompetence, I am learning and this is where I need to be at this time as I continue to master this skill. “

Think of something you have wanted to do differently in your life, what stage are you at with it? And have you given yourself credit for your learning so far?

People come to coaching while at Stage 1, Unconscious Incompetence. They are reaching out and asking for help to reach that stage of Unconscious Competence in whatever it is they are wanting in their lives, and it is always my pleasure to help them with accountability towards that end. 

Graphic from The Coaches Training Institute


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