Hello friends, happy new year, and
welcome to this month’s Joyinmovement newsletter.
It’s always a challenge for me when I sit down to write
the first newsletter of the year. The topic usually springs forth from
something I’ve reflected on from the previous year. When I reflect on
2009 I think about whether or not I’ve been effective in reaching
my goals and what I can do differently in the coming year.
Why do I think in terms of effectiveness?
Because no matter what goals we set for 2010, our effectiveness
will be the foundation for accomplishing them. Whether our goals involve
learning new skills or improving upon our current ones, our ability to
be effective is crucial.
None of us was born knowing how to be
effective. It’s something we learn and practice until it becomes a
habit. So let’s take a closer look at exactly how this happens.
There’s a learning model that comes
from Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) that I’d like to share with you.
It’s also a model that I use when I work as a Z-Health coach.
Understanding this model can help you learn or improve skills and
greatly increase your effectiveness.
describe the model, and then give examples to make it easier to
understand. Lastly, I’ll show you how to use it to make yourself more
effective at any skill you’ve chosen to learn.
The 4 Stages of
Learning a New Skill
Stage 1. Unconscious Incompetence. In this stage you don’t know how to do
something, and you don’t even know that you don’t know.
Conscious Incompetence. In
this stage you know what you don’t know, and you begin to work on
Conscious Competence. In this stage you know what you need to
know, and you can do it. However, it takes all of your concentration.
Unconscious Competence. In this stage you can perform the skill
without even thinking about it. It’s now a habit.
Here are two examples of how these 4 stages work.
1. Learning the
Stage 1. When you
were very young, you didn’t even know that there were 26 letters in the
alphabet. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. You were unconsciously
Stage 2. You
learned that there was such a thing as an alphabet, and that it had 26
letters, but you didn’t know them all. You knew what you didn’t know.
You were consciously incompetent.
Stage 3. You
finally learned all the letters. You knew what you needed to know. To
write a word though, you had to concentrate on each letter. You were
Stage 4. Now, you
can write words without even thinking about it. You are unconsciously
2. Driving a car.
Stage 1. There
was a time when you had no idea of what was involved in driving a car.
You were unconsciously incompetent.
Stage 2. You
began learning about driving. You read a driver’s education book.
Perhaps your parents explained what they were doing while they were
driving. Maybe you asked questions and got answers. You tried to drive,
hopefully with a grown up licensed driver in the car, and realized you
still had a lot to learn. You were consciously incompetent.
Stage 3. After a
lot of practice, you could drive. However, you still had to concentrate
on what you were doing. You were consciously competent.
Stage 4. By now,
you’ve driven so much that it’s become automatic. You no longer have to
think about what to do, you just do it. You are an unconsciously
But perhaps not
in all aspects of driving. How about parallel parking, for instance?
Most people revert back to conscious
competence when parallel
parking. They can parallel park, but first they have to focus, turn down
the radio, or stop talking. Interesting, right?
What does all
this have to do with the achieving your goals?
parking example illustrates that when you are working on developing the
skills you need to achieve your goals, simply being effective from time
to time won’t help you fully establish the habit.
unconsciously competent at those skills, you must recognize which stage
you are in, and then understand what you need to do to move to the next
there are still a few areas where you are unconsciously incompetent,
things you simply don’t know you don’t know.
So your job
right now is to become cognizant of what you need to know to achieve
your main goals.
That will help
you transition to Stage 2.
In Stage 2, you will start to learn what you
need to know to be effective.
In Stage 3, you will apply your newfound
knowledge. But you must do it consciously, consistently, and often.
Before long, you
will progress to Stage 4: unconscious competence. At that point, you
will be effective by habit, performing the skills that ensure your
success without even thinking about it.
Here’s an example from my own life.
For years I’ve wanted to learn to speak
Japanese. I started in stage 2. After trying different approaches to
learning Japanese and not moving beyond stage 2, I decided to commit to
taking a Japanese class once a week. I’ve been doing this for the past 4
months and I am barely in stage 3. My goal for 2010 is to consistently
make study time in between the classes. In doing this, I feel confident
that my Japanese speaking skills will improve. If I don’t practice often
enough, I’ll be stuck in stage 2 or a low level stage 3 forever and
that’s not what I want.
How about examples from your own life?
When it comes to goals for 2010, most
people have one that includes some aspect of health or fitness.
Whichever ones you’ve chosen– lose fat, have better energy, learn a new
sport, eat better and stop eating so much sugar or drinking so much
caffeine– you must apply these four stages when learning something new
or making a change.
You’ve done this many times in your
life without even knowing it. HOWEVER, now that you know the four step
process you can supercharge your effectiveness by bringing this model
into your awareness and applying its principles. Most people who don’t
maintain effective exercise or nutrition habits are stuck in stage 2 or a
low level stage 3. They aren’t consistent enough with their
follow through, which is what will make them most effective and
create the goals they’ve set and move them into stage 4.
Please don’t make this too complicated
for yourself. Go back and see the simplicity of this model and recognize
all the things you’re unconsciously competent at. You got
that way by going through these 4 stages. Now apply them to your goals
Best of health and well being to you in
2010, and of course plenty of Joyinmovement,