to change - Michael Hargrove
There are four stages of learning each of us go through.
These are the exact same steps we all take in order
to learn how to walk, or how to play, or how to acquire
any new skill or habit.
The first stage is called unconscious incompetence
or pre-change. That's when we don't know how much it
costs us to not do the things we don't know we should
be doing. This stage becomes a reoccurring roadblock
to success for those who consider themselves an "expert."
And when we think we know it all, we tend to be less
open to new ideas and, consequently, that tendency eventually
stops the learning process all together. Both of which
are the kiss of death in our careers. Hence, it's important
that we acknowledge the profound difference between
being an expert and owning a level of expertise. The
"expert" seldom attends any seminars or workshops.
While the "student" knows that learning events
outside the work place are fertile ground for taking
their career to the next level of success. The "expert"
rarely reads books or other publications about their
field anymore. The "student" is an absolute
pig for that knowledge and information. The "expert"
constantly looks for reasons why new ideas or strategies
won't possibly work and often uses phrases like; "the
right way" or "the best way " which is
generally the only way they know. The "student"
knows that nothing works all the time and rarely will
any one thing be effective for everybody but if it's
working for someone else, then maybe it will work for
him or her too.
Which one are you?
The second stage of change is called conscious incompetence
or waking up. That is when we do know how much it's been
costing us to not do what we now know we should have been
doing. This is the single most important step to change;
the broadening of our awareness. Fortunately, once we
get to this stage, we seldom ever go back to the first
Einstein once said, "The more I learn, the more I
realize I don't know." Socrates once said something
to the effect that, "The only thing I know, is that
I know nothing."
If we don't fall victim to simply dismissing a "new
way" the first time we hear about it, then the next
and third stage of change is identified as conscious competence
or choosing change. This is where we struggle to master
what we now know we should do. This is usually the most
awkward of the four stages where we feel the stiffness
and strangeness of trying something new or different.
This is also the stage where most children excel and most
We need to follow the example of that child learning to
walk. After each fall, we need to ask ourselves what we
learned, what could we do differently to get a better
result, and how quickly can we get back up and try it
again? Take it from someone who personally knows; if you
fail enough, it stops hurting! In this, the third stage
of owning a new skill, we may also feel discouraged or
disheartened as we fall back into old habits or old ways
of doing things.
It is perfectly natural to feel and do just that, but
with patience, perseverance, and practice we will get
to the fourth stage of change, which is unconscious competence.
This is when the things we know we should do come naturally
and become a habit. We no longer have to struggle with
a new skill. We own it. This is where techniques stop
being simply techniques and actually become a part of
us. We no longer even have to consciously do something.
It simply becomes a natural thing for us to do.