Success Principles

The Four Stages of Learning

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We live in a time of unprecedented change.

Paul Zane Pilzer, a leading economist, recently predicted that half of the jobs that will be in existence in ten years aren’t even invented yet. Even today, over 90% of the jobs in the US weren’t in existence when most of us were born.

What that tells me is that learning and understanding the learning process are major keys to our future success.

Unconscious Incompetence
There are four stages of learning anything. The first is unconscious incompetence. This is when you don’t KNOW that you don’t know how to do something. For instance, a young child isn’t aware that he doesn’t know how to drive a car.

Conscious Incompetence
The second stage is conscious incompetence—when you become aware that you don’t know how to do something. You KNOW that you don’t know. This awareness is critical. Attempting to drive a car without knowing HOW to drive a car could prove fatal.

Conscious Competence
The third stage is conscious competence. This is when we know how to do something, but it requires that we be very much aware of what we’re doing.

To continue with our example, when you first learn how to drive a car, you must concentrate on blending the power, easing out the clutch, watching traffic and the myriad other things that are part of operating an automobile.

Unconscious Competence
The fourth stage is unconscious competence. This is when you’ve reached a level of competency, which requires little or no thought. The skills are ingrained so deeply that you can talk, adjust the radio, open the window and think about your next presentation all while orchestrating the direction, speed and performance of the car.

As we progress through the new millennium, being able to learn new skills and information will be critical to our success. Knowing HOW to learn will become one of our greatest assets.

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