Developing competence in a new skill – the learning cycle

iStock_000001116206XSmallDo you often start learning something new and then give up after the first few attempts? Perhaps you’ve held a long ambition to paint, or write or play a musical instrument but the thought of starting such a project seems a bit daunting so it never gets off the ground or you become frustrated and fall at the first hurdle, so dreams get lost and buried and you’re not fulfilling your potential.

Almost any new skill can be developed with time and patience.  In order to gain confidence and competence in a new skill you have to practice and practice and keep doing the thing you want to do.

There are four stages to developing competence and these are:

1. Unconsciously Incompetent


2. Consciously Incompetent


3. Consciously Competent


4. Unconsciously Competent


Let’s look at these in more detail:…

Unconsciously Incompetent

Remember when you first learned to drive? At the beginning you were blissfully unaware of the deeper skill level required to become a competent driver.

Consciously Incompetent

As you started to learn how to drive and stick with the process you became aware of the skills you lacked.  You became very aware of everything that you didn’t know. It’s as if all your senses were heightened and you’d consciously check your mirror half a dozen times before pulling out. You were very aware that you were a learner driver and you may even have felt very frustrated and uncomfortable.

Consciously Competent

With practice as you progressed with your driving,  you became more confident and competent although you were still very self conscious about everything you were doing.  You know what you are doing but there is still some effort involved.

Unconsciously Competent

After you passed your test and gained more experience you learned to drive without even thinking about it. You automatically change gears, and look in your mirror. Your mind is now programmed to go through all the stages of driving without you being consciously aware.

Learning any new skill takes time and practice so stick with it – and be kind and patient with yourself. Allow yourself to mess up in the beginning – remember you are going through the learning process.

What are your experiences of learning something new?

If you found this article useful I would appreciate it if you would please share it with others and on Twitter, Stumbleupon and Delicious using the button below.  Many thanks.


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~ by Sandstorm on July 29, 2009.

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