Hi Peter Boolkah here and welcome to today’s edition of The Transition Guy, where I’m going to be looking at the 4 stages of learning in business.

How often have you experienced the fact that you’ve learnt something and you’ve forgotten it? And because you’ve forgotten what you’ve learnt, it kind of knocks your confidence a little bit and perhaps says, well maybe I’m not geared up for learning. Well the reality is you’re absolutely geared up for learning but what most people don’t do is go through the entire learning process.

So what are the four stages of learning? Well you’ve got unconscious incompetence, which basically translates to you’re shit and you don’t know you are. Then you’ve got conscious incompetence, which translates to you’re shit and you know you are. Then you’ve got conscious competence, which really relates to the fact that you’re good and you know you’re good. And then unconscious competence, well you’re good but you don’t even think about it, it just happens.

So how can we look at this in a real life scenario. Let’s take driving as an example. Now imagine driving, everybody enjoys driving, everybody as a kid when you’re growing up, you’re thinking I can’t wait to get into the car. And you see everybody else driving, you’re thinking, “Yeah you know what, it’s going to be so easy, not a problem, I’m going to be able to do that”.

Now think back to your very first lesson. Now they’ll be a couple of people out there that just took to it like a duck to water and that’s not a problem. But for the majority of us, and I remember when I first started learning to drive, I remember getting into a car, it was a manual car. And we were driving, so we’d spent about half an hour learning the controls and everything and then off we went.

And I remember it was no more than 15 miles an hour and I had to keep an eye on the road, watch my mirrors, keep an eye on my speed. And do you know what, it was all of a sudden, it was so much to take on board and it was just overwhelming. And you think you’re going really fast and most people behind you were just honking the horn and thinking, “Will you please do something and move over so I can get on with my journey?”. And the reality is we were just unconsciously incompetent. We really didn’t know how badly we sucked at driving.

Then it was the conscious incompetence, after a couple of lessons guess what? The reality dawned upon us, there was so much we had to learn, there was so much we just didn’t know. So how did we learn? We had lessons. What did the lessons involve? Practice, practice, practice. Because we took something that we learnt, and we practiced it. Then we got a point, maybe when we were 12-14 lessons in, you started to become quite confident. You were out there, you were driving the car, you’re doing the speed limit. In the UK it was 30 miles an hour on normal piddly roads. But you were able to confidently look in your mirrors, check the sides and maybe have a conversation with your driving instructor.

And then it comes to the final part and that’s the unconscious competence. And that’s really when you’re on autopilot. And you can imagine two or three years into it, you’ve passed your test, you’ve now become a seasoned driver. You are now in unconscious competence mode.

How do you know that you’re in unconscious competence? Well you’ll be able to relate to the fact that you are driving. Now have you ever experienced the sensation where you’ve got maybe an hour an a half drive ahead of you and you think this is going to be a long drive, it’s going to be a boring drive. And at some stage during that drive you totally zone out and it’s like you have a massive sense of reality 20 minutes later and you’re thinking I’ve covered this ground but I do not remember covering this ground. Well you haven’t killed anybody and you’re still driving the car, which means your subconscious brain, it did everything. You zoned out, you thought about something else but you were still going on your journey. That is unconscious competence.

And then eventually what will happen it you’re really great at driving your car, there is a next level of learning. So let’s say that you then want to go on a track and you want to take your car and you want to start to learn how to track drive. Guess where you go back down to? Unconscious incompetence. Why? Because when you go on to a track, the rules change. The way you have to drive change and it’s all back to learning and practicing.

So whenever you’re in the learning situation and you get frustrated, don’t get frustrated, persevere. Remember if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. So whatever you learn, practice, practice practice. Get yourself up to the unconscious competence stage where it becomes just pure natural.

So if you want to talk in greater depth about learning and how you can increase your learning capacity etc. head over to Boolkah.com and get in touch. And remember failing to learn is learning to fail and in this case, practice, practice, practice.