Have you ever thought of how we learn a skill, how we move from incompetent to competent?

To illustrate the concept I will use the manner in which we learn to drive as an example.

Stage 1 is when you are unconsciously incompetent

In other words, you don’t know that you can’t drive. When I was an infant my parents would put me into my father’s 1938 Chevrolet they would drive to town, do their shopping and I was totally oblivious to the fact that I could or could not drive.

Stage 2 is when you are consciously incompetent

You now know you can’t drive. I would sit in the car and I could not see out the window, and my feet couldn’t reach the pedals, I realized I would need to grow a little more. I did try to ride my dad’s motor cycle, around the yard which gave me some encouragement and confidence that I would eventually be able to drive the car.

Stage 3, when you become consciously competent

At the age of 16 my mother allowed me to drive the car and to practice on a vacant parking area, then I obtained my learners licence and could now drive on the open road, always with a licensed driver. I had to concentrate on how to change gears, synchronise clutch and accelerator without causing the car to jerk on pull away, taking off on a hill without first going backwards, using hand signals because most cars back then had no indicators. Slowly but surely I was getting better and in December 1960 I passed my driving test and got my licence.

Stage 4, when you become unconsciously competent

You now know you can drive without giving it thought, it happens automatically. Think about it, if you have been driving for a few years you get into the car, decide where you want to go and you get to your destination while chatting to your friend and/or texting. (not recommended and illegal) You have now reached the stage of being unconsciously competent.

These four stages apply to most learning situations, like playing the piano, becoming a master chef, and so on. Where it doesn’t always work is when you become good at something and then you start to age. You may be a champion tennis player, unconsciously competent but with age you lose out to younger players, so you could become a coach, you still have the competence but not the ability. But that is life, in other areas like art, music and speaking you just get better and better and that too is important, never stop practicing and learning new techniques, new skills and always striving for excellence. Then you will always remain young at heart, the secret to a happy life and more.


To your success

Think and grow wealthy healthy and wise.

Martin is a qualified and registered trainer for the Toastmasters Leadership Institute. A Distinguished Toastmaster and platform speaker. A Pastor and article writer. Having taught people to play the piano and organ. Co-Author of a children’s recipe book, published in Cape Town. Enjoys the “Classroom” environment of all teaching and encourages people to learn new skills and then to teach others, for the sheer joy of doing so. “The best way to learn is to teach” so said Jim Rohn.