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Secrets of Super Learning Pt 3

Jun 28, 2008
In order to learn and to plan your schedule of training, it is important to understand the different phases of learning that you will go through. I borrowed this model from NLP (neuro-linguistic programming).

There are four primary stages of learning: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.

Unconscious incompetence is the first stage. It is where you don't know, and you aren't aware of the fact that you don't know.

Here are some examples. For a future guitarist, you don't even recognize the guitar separate from the rest of the music when you listen to a song. For a future public speaker, you might think something along the lines of "He's just up there talking to people... I talk to people all the time!"

Conscious incompetence is the second stage. This is where you become aware of the skill-set, and your lack of ability there.

To follow our earlier examples, now you have watched and listened as a guitarist performs a solo and thought "Wow, how does she do that?" Our future public speaker may have stepped in front of their first audience, frozen up, and realized maybe it's not as simple as "just talking to people".

Conscious competence is the third stage. It is where you have learned a process well enough to execute it properly as long as you are paying close attention.

At this point, our future guitarist has learned to play chords or a simple tune, but can only do it right as long as he or she concentrates on it. Our future public speaker might be able to give a short speech as long as he or she focuses on deep breathing and relaxation while presenting.

Unconscious competence is the fourth stage. This is where you have practiced the skill so much, that you execute it correctly without even thinking about it.

Our guitarist now knows the songs so well, he or she can play them well while jumping off a speaker, spinning in circles, or helping the lead singer with backup vocals. The guitarist also begins to develop the ability to play new material extemporaneously at this level. Our public speaker can now get in front of an audience and comfortably speak on virtually anything. He or she can answer tough questions (sometimes with "I don't know"), and adjust the presentation to make it appropriate for the audience. Of course, a good presentation or speech will still require some preparation.

When we learn any skill or skill-set, we go through these same stages. This includes everything from learning to read and understanding Calculus, all the way to being a better mother and learning to deal with challenging emotions. The real challenge is that we are frequently stumbling through these steps without any conscious awareness.

Possibly the most critical point comes between stage 2 and stage 3. This is where you learn a step-by-step procedure to execute the skill. Once you get to stage 4, you won't even think about it anymore. I highly recommend that you select a good instructor and/or a powerful procedure to learn.

This naturally leads us to ask ourselves "how many processes do you already have in place that don't serve you?" If someone is better at math, it's not because they are 'smarter', they just have a better process. If the couple down the street seems much happier than you and your significant other, it's not because 'God blessed them more' or because they are more attractive, it is because they have better processes in place. It might have been an accident, or they may have planned it that way, but they have simply learned better processes for their relationship.

There is good news in all of this. No matter what the skill is, you can always take the time to go back and change the process, or learn a new one entirely. You will have to put forth some effort to make these adjustments, but the rewards can be amazing. Take some time to find something you would like to change in your life. Find an appropriate process, and practice it until it becomes a habit. You will be happy that you did!
About the Author
Benjamin Langley has been studying and training in meditation, yoga, and other sciences of the mind for over 10 years. He regularly writes and shares powerful insights on his own blog. Come take a look: http://peacefulprosperity.com/blog
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