The 4 levels of Learning

There are 4 levels of learning in any subject that you can master, the key is to remain teachable while you are going through these levels unless you wish to remain at the bottom.

The first level is Unconscious incompetence, in other words ‘you don’t know, what you don’t know’.  This is when you are most likely entering into a new subject of learning, maybe it’s driving for the first time, maybe it’s starting your own business for the first time, maybe it’s your first position in leadership.  Whatever the case, any time you enter into a new endeavor this, is a key time to be as teachable as you can be and as open minded as you can be as well.  I’ve said it many times before, but we all have the same 24 hours in a day, some people are successful in that time and some others are not.  It’s your decisions and choices and knowledge that you have and apply in that 24 hours that determine your results.  So if you are on the first level of learning in a subject I would suggest seeking out books, and mentors, and trainings on the subject you wish to succeed at, at all costs, if you want to be successful. Also If the people you are learning from have what you want, I would suggest doing what they do, so you can have what they have. The principle of matching and modeling is a great way to start to begin to learn and climb up the ladder of learning.

The next level is conscious incompetence, this is where you begin to realize that ‘You know, that you don’t know’.  At this point you are beginning the learning process and you realize you are making mistakes, you know that you are doing it wrong, because you are not getting the results that you want while performing a task.  Again this is a great time to dive into learning and seeking advice from mentors or experts in the field so you can continue to learn the processes you are supposed to be doing correctly. I think of it like your first few times learning how to drive, and start to parallel park. You probably can’t get it in just right, you have to back in and out, you probably hit the curb, you need to correct what you’re doing wrong, but aren’t quite sure how to do it.  This could be a time of trial and error, but again seeking mentorship in this time will help a lot, and especially while staying teachable.

The third level is conscious competence, this is where you know what you are doing, but you still need to consciously think about what you are doing the whole time. At this point your habits can become a big help or a big hindrance.  In this level when you are consciously making the choices of what you are doing, it can become a habit for you. So make sure you are following the path to success and matching and modeling the correct leaders in order to get the best results when you master the subject. This is a very crucial time to still remain teachable because, in my experience the worst part of success is a little bit.  Don’t let your beginning successes go to your head because if you do, you may never reach the top of your potential or success. The more you can remain teachable and humble with your results and success the further you will go.

The final and fourth level is unconscious competence, at this level you have mastered the task, and you don’t have to think about doing it.  I really relate this to driving.  When I first started driving I can remember checking all of the mirrors, hands at 10′ and 2′, always driving under the speed limit, etc. Now how do most of us drive? We are talking on the phone, eating from the drive through, I’ve seen people put on makeup, texting, reading, on their computer, the craziness goes on and on. Ever reached your destination and can’t for the life of you even remember driving there? That’s the level of unconscious competence. So the true goal in any subject we wish to master should be to get to the top fourth level of unconscious competence. In my opinion the only way to successfully get there though is to remain humble and teachable while going through the levels of learning. Also I firmly believe that if we aren’t growing we are dying. A great leadership mentor of mine John C. Maxwell I feel said it best ‘There is no arriving as a leader. No good Leaders reach a place where they can afford to stop learning, growing, and improving-if not for themselves, then for the sake of their organization and people’.  The journey to leadership and success is a process but to stay at the top you need to keep learning and growing and remain teachable.

Wishing you Health and Prosperity – Mike MacDonald

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