The Value of being Incompetent

The 4 Stages of Competence | My wife read a magazine while we were waiting in the doctors’ office and found a learning model that has changed my perspective on learning.

The core of the idea is that in order to gain a competence in a skill it is necessary first to recognize that there is more to learn. I personally find the point of view refreshing because it gives me permission not to be perfect yet. It is expected, in fact necessary, for mistakes to be made in order for me to get better.

Before I can achieve competence I must recognize that I am incompetent.

All skill development goes through this stage. It is the stage in the process where most of us quit. If we do however wish to gain the skill a conscious effort must be made. This is a stage of faith. A willingness to invest consistent effort over time to become competent. It is not immediate gratification.

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The following is a condensed version from Wikipedia.

Unconscious incompetence

The individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit.

Conscious incompetence

Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit.

Conscious competence

The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration.

Unconscious competence

The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily.

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As children we enjoy a stage where ignorance is bliss. We draw, dance, and sing, because we like it without worrying that it is “good enough”. Then one day when we realize that there is long way to go before we can really draw, sing, and dance, well. We say things like “I can’t draw a straight line”. What gave us pleasure a few days ago now seems unattainable.

All learning requires a recognition of incompetency. So today I give you permission to be incompetent so that you might become competent.

What skill are you trying to gain competency ?

 

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